Skip to content

Hands across the Ocean - Australians Tugmasters complete training in Portsmouth

Published: 8 Aug 2019

Three trainee Serco Tugmasters from Australia have successfully completed their training at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth with the help of Serco colleagues in the UK.  Alicia Pollock, Ben Naismith and Blake Thompson have all spent five weeks with Serco’s Maritime Services team at HMNB Portsmouth and Devonport in the UK as part of their training, and Alicia and Ben have now been presented with their certificates by Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Nick Hine CB.

This is the culmination of work that the Serco team has been doing with their opposite numbers from Serco’s Australian Fleet Marine Services Contract (FMSC) to assist with their Tugmaster training programme. Serco’s UK team provides support services to the Royal Navy at naval bases across the UK and has a well-developed structured training and competency checking programme, plus a pool of Tug Training Masters. The Australian team provide very similar services to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and requested assistance from the UK team to help deliver a tug training package at three of the RAN’s bases in Perth, Darwin and Sydney. The two Serco contracts are half a world away from each other, but both face the same operational challenges and need for high quality support from their naval customers.

The work started last October 2018 when Rob Hinton and Paul Robson, two Training Masters from the UK, visited Australia to assist their Australian colleagues to achieve their long-term aim to become self-sufficient with their training.  This will enable them to provide their own competent in-house Training Masters who can conduct Annual Competency Checks and deliver a nationally approved training package.

Working together, the UK and Australian teams devised a structure and framework to meet the requirement of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), the approval body for training programmes like this.  Tugmasters Rob and Paul completed Competency Checks for existing ‘Azimuth Stern Drive’ Tugmasters in Perth and Darwin, and Competency Checks plus Conventional Twin Screw training in Sydney. 

Commenting on the teamworking, Rob Hales, Serco’s Maritime Services Contract Director, said: “The initial work we have done together with our Australian colleagues has been very successful.   It has demonstrated the strength that Serco can bring through its international customer base and global reach.  This has been a great opportunity to cross-pollenate ideas and training across the world, and these achievements have laid good foundations for future training and further co-operation between the two teams to share our skills and knowledge and enhance our support for our naval customers. The Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy are similarly strengthening their existing ties and it is important that the Serco team is also sharing our expertise across the globe.” 


  1. Australian trainee Alicia Pollock at the helm under the guidance of Rob Hinton, with HMS Queen Elizabeth.  Photo credit: Rob Hinton @TugmasterRob