Former Captain of Queen Mary 2 awarded honorary degree
Former Captain of the Queen Mary 2, Captain Oprey, has been awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Maritime Studies by Solent University today (Tuesday 10 July): "I am very proud to receive this award today and hope that this is the start of a nice association between myself and the University for many years to come."
Captain Oprey was born and grew up in Southampton and comes from a long line of seafarers. As a boy, he spent much of his time sailing boats on the Solent, one of the world’s most renowned sailing waters.
He joined the Merchant Navy at the age of seventeen as a deck cadet with the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, and trained at Solent University’s Warsash Maritime Academy (formerly Warsash School of Navigation) throughout his career.
Captain Oprey has sailed across the globe on a range of vessels including cruise ships, cargo vessels, supertankers and high-speed catamarans.
His keen interest in sailing also led him to serve for two years as Mate aboard the Sail Training Association’s three-masted topsail schooners ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ and ‘Malcolm Miller’.
A rough-seas accident on the schooners sent Captain Oprey ashore for several years, during which he re-trained and worked in the IT industry. However, the call of the sea beckoned and in 1992 he once again returned to Warsash Maritime Academy to re-sit professional qualifications and obtain his Master mariners License.
Speaking to students at their graduation ceremony, Captain Oprey addressed some of the challenges the industry faces today: "With increasing technology on board ships nowadays, our officers need to be better prepared. It is the training that they receive from places such as Solent University that will produce a great generation of future officers."
In 2011, while in command of the P&O cruise ship Arcadia, Captain Oprey was asked to transfer to Cunard Line and take command of the world’s greatest Ocean Liner, Queen Mary 2. He remained Captain until 2017, a command that included six world voyages and more than sixty transatlantic crossings.
In 2014 Captain Oprey was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for meritorious service and in 2016 he was admitted as a Freeman of the City of London.
Today he conducts international port risk assessments for the world’s shipping industry and provides advanced skills training for a new generation of maritime navigation officers.
Captain Oprey adds: "The world is changing faster than ever which for you means it is an exciting place to be starting a career. I have no doubt that as a graduate from Solent, you have a huge advantage. Whatever it is that you go on to do, I hope that you do it to the best of your ability and that you will find it both rewarding and enjoyable. I wish you all the very best for your futures."