After spending almost three years as a very successful part of a large organisation, the Marine Support & Training Service (MSTS) broke away and became independent in December 2003. We have maintained and expanded upon our role as a uniformed, totally voluntary charity, and continue to provide training in Seamanship, Small Craft Engineering and Operational Support for our members, who come from many different backgrounds.
Our philosophy is that if we are asked for assistance, our response is, ‘Yes. What do you need now, and what can we do to help?’
Early in 2007 we set up a Cadet Section, members of which have received permission from their school Heads of Year allowing them to take time away from school should exercises or training take place during their normal school hours. All of our adult members have been CRB cleared to to work with young people.
In September 2007, we were asked if we could suggest what to do with the Tall Ship “HMS Bounty” for a week! We made some enquiries, and arranged that she pay visits to Blyth and Newcastle. This was a tremendous coup for Blyth, where she was extremely well received by the people of the area. Many thanks, especially to Blyth Valley Borough Council, Newcastle City Council, the Harbour Masters of Tyne and Blyth, Both Mayors, and everyone else who became involved at extremely short notice, especially the Briardale Community Training Centre for their magnificent on-board catering throughout the visits.
Through September and October 2007, we provided specialist advice and training for the crew of the Finnish Fair Trade Ship “TS Estelle” when she came into Blyth. We organised having her water tanks tested and sterilised, and arranged for essential spares and equipment to be delivered to the port. Eventually she complied with the requirements of the Port Health Authority, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and SOLAS before she was allowed to leave for her passage up to Leith, in Scotland.
We have a number of experienced small craft handlers and crew, (minimum qualification is the RYA Powerboat Level 2) and engineers who are able to assist national and local authorities as well as the statutory services in case of emergency.
We are actively involved within the local community, and over the years we have taken part in major exercises in conjunction with the Tyne and Wear Emergency Planning Unit. These have included:- Northumberland Dock, Crystal Ocean and Hadrian.
One of our annual commitments is to provide a security detail for the Scottish Garelochhead 2-Day Marches, which are held over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.
We became registered as a Charity in England and Wales on Trafalgar Day, 21st October 2008.