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Alex finished his cadetship in October 2010 when he was 26. He won the Deck Cadet of the Year 2011 award. Ian Palmer, Training Manager for SSTG accepted the award on Alex's behalf (Alex was in Australia!)
Alex says "On one of the most important days of my life, I was sitting in the MCA waiting room with waterfalls flowing down the palms of my hands trying to unlock all the information I had handed down to me by Lecturers and Officers at sea. Even now I get butterflies in my stomach thinking about it. The last 3 years of my life summed up in what I imagined would be 45 minutes of torture. The first 5 minutes were terrible, nerves got the better of me. But at last I began to relax and masses of information began to pour out in the form of words the examiner understood.
I passed, and it simply came down to the fact I was prepared by all the people involved in my cadetship training and knowledge, handed down over hundreds if not thousands of years through seafaring tradition and experience.
Since then I have been in positions of responsibility I didn't think imaginable. Some planned - others not. I recall one of my last lectures in meteorology was on the topic of Tropical Revolving Storms. "I'll never see one of those", I thought. By the end of my first five week trip as a Second Officer I had been through three!
I was still learning skills, such as sleeping vertically up against the wall or which way to align the mattress so I wouldn't wake up on the opposite side of my cabin. Thankfully I had retained the information taught to me by lecturers and during my first storm immediately came up with a plan to advert this weather."
"I had gone from being a cadet with little responsibility to a Second Officer who had just briefed the Master on what can become an extremely dangerous and life threatening situation and changed the course of millions of pounds worth of ship and cargo to safety and avert any incident, in a matter of weeks.
Unlike other educations learnt by the masses you use everything you learn.
People do not understand what it means to hold a UK Unlimited Certificate of Competency. You can detect the tone of jealousy in others who don't have one. After all we are the greatest maritime nation in the world. The standard of training you will receive from Warsash alone earns you respect from other nationals.
This first year has been one I will never forget. Just because my cadetship stopped, my learning didn't. It never does. The greatest saying I have heard whilst being as sea is:
'If you don't like it stick around, it will change.'
I cannot begin to emphasise how true this statement is. I never have a dull day. Only recently I have found myself hand steering through the Singapore Straits on a brand new $34million vessel as the autopilot had failed and no one else onboard had hand manoeuvred this type of vessel before. The experience I had was from completing my steering ticket as cadet.
For me the responsibility I have been given is what gets me out of bed. Lives, millions of pounds worth of ship, environmental impacts and even GDP of a country – this is not something you can pick up working in your local supermarket. Perhaps its not just the responsibility -through the hard work this year I now live on the beach in Queensland Australia, drive a $40,000 car, play golf at least 120 days a year, mountain bike, dive and kitesurf the rest.
For a choice of career that was accidental I think it's safe to say I fell on my feet. Would I change anything? You’re kidding right, I don't need to answer do I!"
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