Two new trainee Pilots for the Port of Cromarty Firth

Port of Cromarty Firth has recruited two new Marine Officers (Pilots) to help manoeuver ships in the Highlands largest port. 

Ben Thompson is the Port’s newest marine officer; he started as a trainee marine pilot in late November.  With 2017 being the busiest year for cruise ships and with an anticipated increase in the size of the ships visiting the Firth next year, the support of Marine Officers is needed more than ever.

Ben will have responsibility for the safe navigational conduct of a vessel throughout its passage in the Port.  A skilled mariner, he will take vessels and structures into, out of and between locations within the Cromarty Firth Pilotage District.  All marine officers will now be guided from trainee to certified Class 1 Pilot by following the Port’s training scheme.

Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, Ben, an experienced ship handler, has worked on various vessels all around the world during his varied career.  Starting out as a cadet with Trinity House, he obtained a foundation degree in Nautical Science from Fleetwood Nautical College before progressing through the ranks and achieving his Master Mariner certificate.  He joins the Port from his previous post as Master on board the Alert, stationed in South-East England.  

Ben Thompson follows Tom Feakins as the second Maine Officer to join the Port’s training scheme.  Tom joined the programme several months ago and recently passed the first assessment on his journey to becoming fully certified.  He has worked on ships all over the world during his fifteen-year career.  Before joining the Port, Tom was Chief Officer onboard the SD Victoria.  He has an MSc with distinction in Shipping Operations from Southampton Solent University and is also a Master Mariner.

Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “We are happy to welcome our newest addition, Ben, to the team. His diverse career has spanned nearly a decade and we are looking forward to watching his progress.”

He continued: “With Tom and Ben in the Port’s Marine Operations Team, we will be more than ready for the new and bigger cruise ships that will be coming into the Port next year and the years to follow.  By providing high quality employment opportunities, complete with training and development, the Port (and its new recruits) are in turn securing the cruise sector, which generates millions of pounds and hundreds of jobs in the Highland economy. Our mission as a Trust port is to deliver sustainable models such as this and to continue bringing jobs and social benefits to the area.”

The Port of Cromarty Firth has also been involved in developing an apprenticeship scheme as part of a Ports trailblazer group.  The scheme was launched by the British Ports Association (BPA) to encourage UK Ports to plan for the future and invest in traineeships to attract more people into the industry.  

Media Contact: Mairi Morrison on 0141 406 3663 or