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Contributing to local and maritime history and heritage in Portsmouth, UK

In 2021, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of providing defence critical Maritime Services to the Royal Navy from Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth for our UK Government customers in the Defence sector. Our Maritime Services contract operates more than 100 vessels from six sites around the UK – also including HMNBs Devonport and Clyde and the BUTEC (British Underwater Test & Evaluation Centre) Ranges in Kyle of Lochalsh – working in British waters and around the world.

Like many port cities, Portsmouth is proud of its enduring naval heritage and traditions, which have played a key role in the transformative regeneration of the city since the 1990s. Local identity and economy have been shaped by centuries of Crown, country and community relationships with the sea.

The same could be said of our team in Portsmouth, which comprises 150 colleagues combining decades of experience with highly specialised skills. Together, our teams provide a range of services to the Royal Navy including towage, passenger transfers, fuel and waste management, supporting the Queen Elizabeth and Price of Wales Aircraft Carriers in their home port; trialling new maritime technology; and supporting worldwide military training operations.

The majority of our Portsmouth colleagues are from the local area, and many have maritime service in their blood – representing seafarer families who have worked in or alongside the Royal Navy for generations. More than 40% have been supporting the Royal Navy or Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service for several decades and more than 10% are ex-forces veterans themselves.

Salli Shapcott, Contract Director, said “With their close ties to Portsmouth and longstanding connections to the national maritime community. Our team are not only proud to have been serving and working alongside the Royal Navy since 1996, they welcome opportunities to support their local community whilst helping to celebrate and preserve the rich culture and history that are a big part of their lives and the city’s future.”

We have been proud to support heritage vessels, take part in local events such as the VE Day 75 Celebrations – which included contributing to the illuminations with our vessel search lights – and supported other historic charity projects through 2020.

For example:

  • HMS Vernon was a shore establishment or ‘stone frigate’ of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, dedicated to training mine clearance divers. In 2020, following years of fund-raising, a monument was installed on the site, now Gunwharf Quays, to celebrate and honour all who had trained and served there. We sponsored and provided support for the unveiling ceremony, and although the event itself was cancelled due to Covid-19, our contributions helped to enhance the alternative arrangements.

  • LCT (Landing Craft, Tank) 7074 is the sole surviving LCT from the D-Day landings in World War 2 – one of more than 800 LCTs that took part, carrying tanks or other heavy armoured vehicles into battle. After being salvaged from the River Mersey, LCT 7074 was transported to Portsmouth and restoration by the National Museum of the Royal Navy completed in 2020. We have been supporting this charity project by helping to move LCT 7074 around the Naval base and to her final resting place outside the D-Day museum in Southsea.

  • The historic vessel Steam Pinnace 199, built in 1911, has now been put back into the water with the help of our Portsmouth team. The 12-month restoration of the vessel – which will now serve in apprentice training and student work experience – took place in our Round Tower Complex workshop, carried out by specialists engaged by the National Museum of Royal Navy, assisted by Serco colleagues. We also provide docking for the HSL (High Speed Launch) 102, another World War 2 vintage vessel, in the Round Tower Complex for annual refit purposes.

  • The world’s last remaining steam paddle steamer, the Waverley, is registered on The National Historic Fleet as being a vessel of pre-eminent national significance. The Waverly operates as a charity out of Portsmouth every September, providing local public cruise services. We lend our support to provide towage in the port, without which the Waverley’s Portsmouth visits would be unaffordable and discontinued. We also provide crew on secondment and assist with repairs.

We are proud to be part of the wider ‘Team Portsmouth’, working closely with our customer and other stakeholders behind the wall in HMNB Portsmouth to support the Naval Base Commander’s agenda for the Naval Base community. Our team are fully committed to doing our part in the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and a carbon sink by 2050 and have recently kicked off a decarbonisation programme. We are fully engaged in the diversity and inclusion agenda and are involved in the ‘Women in Defence’ programme, setting up a new internal Serco Women in Defence group, part of our wider Serco Inspire Network.

Our team in Portsmouth also focus on careers and apprenticeships for the next generation of the Maritime workforce. We have been working with local schools in Portsmouth, providing work experience, and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, and promoting careers in the sector as Industry Ambassadors for Maritime UK.