Captain Chris Phelan - Director of the School of Maritime Studies - 1974 -1988

The following is Captain Chris Phelan's resume of his period as Director at Warsash from 1974 to 1988.

Captain Whalley Wakeford retired in 1970 after which his deputy Captain Tony Stewart held the reins for four years. In 1974 I was appointed Director of the then School of Maritime Studies at Warsash by its Board of Governors comprising representatives of the Shipping Industry, Department of Trade & Industry, University of Southampton, Local Education Authority and independent appointees.

I have always been a firm believer in the personal development of youth, supporting the concepts of Kurt Hahn and the Outward Bound scheme. I had regularly commanded sail training vessels, being on the Race Committee of the Sail Training Association, and twice crossed the Atlantic under sail with trainee crews. This new challenge was to retain the established personal development aspects of the school, whilst expanding its facilities and extending its training programmes so that it could continue to command a premier position, and not succumb like "Worchester" and "Conway".

The school already had a radar simulator, and shortly after commencing my term in office I introduced the UK's first non-military Ship Simulator in conjunction with Decca. I was appointed the first Secretary-General of the International Marine Simulator Forum which continues to exist today. It was when formulating the courses for the Ship Simulator that the concept of Bridge Team Training was developed, a subject that has continued to receive increasing prominence ever since. After the bridge simulator the Engine Room Simulator developed with Haven was introduced at Warsash; and finally, in conjunction with its Petro-Chemical Courses, the college designed and developed the Liquid Cargo Operations Simulator (LICOS).

Warsash had developed into a simulation centre. To supplement this a Manned-Model facility, similar to that at Grenoble in France, was developed at Marchwood. This highly successful facility to demonstrate the techniques of handling primarily VLCC tankers has continued to expand, in tandem with the on-going developments in simulation.

The short course department, comprising predominantly the tanker safety and petro-chemical courses, continued its very successful programmes which were exported world-wide; the fire training school was expanded and further developed, and an offshore training facility was created. To this was added the Ship Management Centre at Hook Park which, in conjunction with the Industry, was instrumental in the development of effective manning, job identification, and relevant management techniques on board ships.

Throughout all these developments the familiar cadet morning run continued, and cadets remained in uniform, albeit with naval style jumpers.

Finally there was the transfer of the professional Marine Engineering departments from East Park Terrace to Warsash, to create a unified marine complex at Warsash, with the building of a substantial engineering workshop facility near the seamanship centre.

In line with the above developments the name of "school" did not sit comfortably within Further Education, and the name was changed to the College of Nautical Studies and subsequently modified to the College of Maritime Studies when the marine engineers became incorporated.

In the re-organisation of Higher Education in the 1980's the College, with now more than 75% higher level work, was combined with the College of Higher Education in Southampton, to become the Institute of Higher Education. I became a Vice-Principal of the Institute as well as Director of the College. This Institute has since developed into the Southampton Solent University, and Warsash is now an integral part as Warsash Maritime Academy.

In 1984 I was instrumental with John Metcalf in the introduction and development of the Warsash Association, as a sequel to the Old Cadets Association. The 25th Anniversary of the Association is being celebrated in October 2009.

With my work at Warsash completed, I decided to return to the Marine Industry. I was eventually appointed Fleet Director of Pacific Carriers Limited, a major international shipping company headquartered in Singapore.

In 2009 I am approaching the end of my maritime career as a Marine Consultant, with a thriving company in Singapore investigating marine incidents, and acting regularly as Expert Witness in the Singapore High Court.