Cadets and staff from 379 (County of Ross) Squadron visited the port of Cromarty Firth in Invergordon.
The group experienced first-hand the role and function of the ports pilot boat and its crew. They also got access to the ports brand new interceptor pilot boat - the ‘Dalmore’. The new boat was built in Ireland and it should replace the current vessels that have been operating in the Firth for over 35 years.
The Port of Cromarty Firth is a hub of economic activity in the Easter Ross area and generates around £275 million annually. The waters of the Cromarty Firth offer safe, sheltered deep berths and anchorages which are suitable for some of the largest cruise ships in the world. It also accommodates the decommissioning and storage of drilling and exploration of oil rigs.
The marine pilots and launch crews are responsible for the safe navigation of vessels in and out of the port. They have welcomed over one hundred boats to the Firth over the last year. The cadets saw first hand how experienced pilots disembark the cruise liners when they got up close to the ‘Norwegian Spirit’ as it steamed out of the Firth, and watched the pilot leave the ship and board one of the ports other pilot boats.
A few days later the cadets got the chance to look at the oil production platforms which are on the Firth. They then looked at the coastal batteries which protected the port of Invergordon and the Cromarty Firth during WW1 and WW11. Hidden in the cliffs are a series of underground bunkers, tunnels, searchlight positions and gun emplacements which were designed to protect the British fleet from enemy attack.
OC 379 (County of Ross) Squadron, Flying Officer David Anderson said,
“What a fantastic opportunity for our cadets to experience first-hand the role of the Pilot boat crews and to observe the Firth in a completely different perspective while on board the ‘Dalmore’.
"It has been a fantastic opportunity for our cadets to experience the functions of a local business and a possible employer.
" The Air Cadets is all about experiences that might not otherwise be available and exposing our cadets to areas of business and opportunities that might interest them in the future whatever they may go onto do.
" A huge thank you to the team at the port for helping us organise the trips, and experience that both the cadets and staff will cherish for many a year.”
Graham Grant, Marine Support Manager, Port of Cromarty Firth, said,
“It was our pleasure to welcome the RAF Air Cadets to the port and what better way to show off the wonderful Port and glorious Firth than on board our brand new Pilot vessel the ‘Dalmore’.
" Our team enjoyed the opportunity to explain our role and function within the Firth."