A career at sea awaits Manx cadet engineer


A long-held family tradition is being upheld after the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company welcomed a new engineering cadet.

Liam Richards is spending six weeks on board the Ben-my-Chree before heading off to gain deep sea experience.

Liam, 19, who lives in Andreas, is following in his father’s footsteps. Carl is 2nd engineer on the fast craft Manannan, while his grandfather Alfred used to work as a motorman for the Company in the 1970s.

The cadetship forms part of an association between the Steam Packet Company and ship management firm V. Ships and the Isle of Man Ship Registry.

Ethel Docherty, Steam Packet Company Human Resources Manager, explained: ‘We always try to support Manx seafarers wherever possible and also understand the importance of competent seafarers so it’s good to encourage local cadets to go to sea and into the maritime industry.

‘That is often easier said than done and recruitment can be difficult. When we were approached by V. Ships, which runs its own cadet training programme, we were more than happy to get involved.

‘This is a great opportunity for Liam to develop the skills, knowledge and competencies required to become a competent engineer. He will receive mentoring and career guidance and we look forward to helping and seeing him progress.’

A former Ramsey Grammar School student, Liam is currently studying marine engineering at Fleetwood Nautical Campus.
Once he has completed his time on the Ben-my-Chree he will spend three months on a deep sea vessel, either a bulk or gas carrier.

Liam added: ‘I’ve always had an interest in mechanics and engineering generally, I suppose it’s in the genes. When I was a youngster my dad used to take me down to the engine room when he was working and, as I got a bit older, I thought I could possibly balance what I like doing in terms of a career.

‘You don’t see many adverts for the Merchant Navy, so I was really keen to find out about the cadetship. It’s just a wonderful opportunity and I am so grateful to the Steam Packet Company for giving me the opportunity to gain ferry experience. I already know some of the crew here and everyone has been so welcoming and I’m constantly learning. No two days are the same.

‘My dad told me what his dad told him and that was “get yourself to sea” and this is hopefully the start of working towards my higher certificate of competency. I know a long time of practical training and exams lie ahead.’

The Steam Packet Company hopes Liam is the first recipient of four cadetships it can offer in association with the V. Group over the next two years.

Ethel continued: ‘Whether Liam wants to embark on life as a seafarer, or decide to settle ashore where there is a range of officer roles from marine safety to becoming a marine surveyor, or whether he wants to continue his career and become a Chief Engineer, this programme will provide him with a combination of academic knowledge and practical training.’

Mark Woodward, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive, said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting this programme and providing Liam with such an invaluable experience.

‘The development of cadets is imperative for the industry and we will play an active role in mentoring Liam and ensuring he receives career guidance throughout his time with us.

‘We wish him well in his new endeavours and hopefully the start of a successful career in shipping.’


Liam with his father Carl