A former Harbour Master and Master Mariner has set course for new horizons using all of his nautical experience and skills.
Captain Mike Nicholson from Chester le Street, County Durham has established Shipmove, a marine consultancy offering practical solutions for ships, ports, and people.
His latest projects required specialist navigation input into complex civil engineering projects and advice on the impact to port operations particularly in respect to three proposed new bridges in the East of England.
Work is now going ahead on the Lake Lothing Third Crossing in Lowestoft and the Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing following navigation simulations and input into risk assessments, while his guidance on navigation through the Ipswich Upper Orwell Crossing was used at the planning stages of the proposed design.
Mike’s first involvement with bridges from an engineering standpoint came with the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The original bridge was constructed before his arrival on the Tyne and included sixteen unsightly protection piles. Alternative designs had been suggested to replace them, but Mike’s solution was simple. Remove them entirely. He sanctioned a new Risk Assessment that proved his hunch that they were after all, unnecessary.
“The Gateshead Millennium Bridge project was what started me looking at how my maritime expertise could be used in ways other than traditional vessel management and pilotage. I started looking at things afresh and challenging the traditional way of doing things.
I now have a significant body of knowledge and innovation that I can use to help anyone who needs specialist advice from a marine perspective,’” he said.
As well as marine advice to civil engineering projects, his recent work has included advising on navigation strategies and the tug requirements of a new terminal for an oil major and being an expert witness for a ship owner whose vessel was written off due to failings in a Ports Safety Management System where his auditing experience proved particularly useful.
Starting as a cadet at South Shields Marine College, his experience at sea in a variety of vessels spanned 15 years before he came ashore to work as a Pilot and Harbour Master at the North East port of Seaham. This then led to his appointment at the Port of Tyne where some of his proudest achievements included bringing the QE2 to the river, helping to build up the Port’s cruise ship business to a high level and managing the marine aspects of the 2005 Tall Ships Race which had the largest ever collection of Class A ships ever assembled.
As both a Master Mariner and Pilot, he is one of only a handful of certificated Harbour Masters with hands on experience of all aspects of shipping, harbour operations and port management.
He is also a past executive committee member of the United Kingdom Harbour Master’s Association; past chair of the North East Ports Marine Group and he is also one of Trinity House Newcastle’s younger brethren.
“I realised when I was promoted to Captain at the age of 29 exactly what the term “the buck stops here” meant; I have lived by that philosophy ever since. Part of the attraction of working for myself at Shipmove is that no two days are the same and that I am helping to improve safety, the environment and port security by passing on my nautical knowledge and experience.”