Matthew Fitzer

Matthew Fitzer / 07.08.2020

Matthew Fitzer

I started my cadetship in January 2019. I did some research and deliberation, wondering if a career at sea was for me, but a year on from moving to Southampton and starting my cadetship I have no doubt I made the correct decision. Thanks to this decision I have had some really incredible experiences that would’ve never been possible in the normal 9 to 5 jobs I have done previously.

The sea phases are some of the best parts about a cadetship as it gives you real world experience in a field which you have chosen to study at college, whether that be Deck, Engineering or ETO. I have been on two brilliant vessels RRS James Clark Ross and the THV Galatea, both ships provided invaluable work experience on ship with exceptional training.

In the case of the RRS James Clark Ross, the first vessel I was placed on, I was flown from RAF Brize Norton on an RAF flight to the Falkland Islands. From there I joined the ship in Port Stanley, I was traveling with another cadet from the same intake as me, with neither of us knowing what to expect. While on the first trip we crossed the Atlantic traveling from Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands to the Harwich in the UK. This took around a month to complete, a daunting thought for someone who is not from a maritime background. However, the crew on board were excellent and went out their way to try and show you things to help with your college studies, while also observing some classic merchant navy customs as the picture shows when we crossed the equator. I knew that I couldn’t go just back to a “normal” job once I’d dressed up in stupid outfits made from butchering a couple of boiler suits in the middle of the tropics and been chased round a ship.

The second vessel I was placed on was the THV Galatea, a lighthouse and buoy tender operated by Trinity house. The vessel operates around the UK, mainly out of Harwich and Swansea. This vessel was also brilliant in regard to training and gaining experience, they have a excellent crew and I was put on watches on the bridge with the second officer. Like most officers he had been a cadet through the current system and gave me some useful advice. The chief officers were very keen on making sure we knew the rules and regulations, while we also got a taste of the unique work of this vessel, servicing and maintaining the buoyage system around the UK as well as supplying the lighthouses.  On this particular trip I can remember getting shore leave in the Channel Islands. Me and the other cadets on board spent most of the afternoon in the open water swimming pools and honestly it felt like I was on holiday, I never felt like that in my old office job, I can tell you that.

I am currently waiting on my next placement and I’m very excited to potentially get two months on a HM Border Force cutter, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities and experiences I can gain from it. I’ve been lucky to go on many great placements and to have many other great experiences from sailing the Virgin Scarlet Lady on Chiltern Maritime’s state of the art simulators, team building in the lake district, and weekends away with the lads and running marathons for charity. After all these fantastic moments I’m sure that I made the right decision.

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