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Matthew Gigg

Graduated 2015

Officer cadet, Matthew Gigg

What made you want to be a deck officer in the Merchant Navy?

I used to teach watersports and while I loved it, there was something niggling away. Something wasn’t fulfilling my needs, and I realised it was my thirst for adventure. I loved the idea of seeing the world. I spoke to a friend who was doing a cadetship, who told me about his course and his sponsoring company – from that point on, I was hooked!

I did a lot of research and applied to a number of sponsoring companies, and was overjoyed to be offered a sponsorship with V.Ships (previously Bibby Ship Management).

What was your training at Warsash like? What stuck with you from your academic studies?

Every lecturer has their own style of teaching, and you will not always get on with every lecturer or every teaching method. But you have to work past this, adapt and be versatile; the lecturers are ultimately there to help and get you through your cadetship, they don’t want to fail you! Every lecturer who taught me had an abundance of knowledge which was very useful to me.

I found I had a real passion for celestial navigation. I loved the stories behind the stars and I loved being able to replicate what seafarers of old used to do. I loved learning how to use a sextant – and this actually came in handy in my orals!

What was your first sea phase like? Was it what you expected?

My first sea phase was busy! It was a four-month trip on Foreland Vessels’ roll-on-roll-off (ro-ro) cargo ships. I loved it. I had an amazing chief officer who was very knowledgeable about celestial navigation. He knew I had a passion for it and was more than willing to pass his knowledge on to me.

I would advise any cadet to get off ship as much as possible to explore every location, because as an officer you won't get as many opportunities to do so. During my cadetship I visited countries such as China, Oman and Bahrain.

You received the MCA Officer Trainee of the Year Award - tell us more about that

I was humbled and honoured to be nominated and win. I actually found out both at the same time! I was shocked and excited, and I’m still overwhelmed to have won.

I faced a life threatening illness during my cadetship, but I didn’t let that affect my mental wellbeing or my approach to my studies. I saw it as my challenge, not my holdback. I applied myself to the course and my academics speak for themselves in the face of adversity. I like to think I was an integral part of my cohort and a good representative for Warsash at the events I attended.

The ceremony was held at Trinity House in London. The building is spectacular – I would highly recommend anyone to visit it. The ceremony was small, around 100 people, but that made it more personal and more special. My proudest moment was having my fiancée and my family with me to see me receive the award.

Tell us about your career so far

I started out working for an independent dredging company called Severn Sands, sailing as first mate. I was responsible for navigating, maintenance of fire-fighting and life-saving appliances and all the dredge gear.

But I’ve just recently gained a position in an offshore fleet, which was always my ambition – I’m 2/O and navigation officer on a platform supply vessel for V.Ships Offshore. Next step is to gain my dynamic positioning tickets, and from there I’m aiming to achieve chief officer status, and ultimately master mariner.

What advice would you give someone wanting a career in maritime?

Do your research to pick the right training provider for you. Different providers offer a different variety of vessels you can sail on. Take every opportunity you get, and get ashore as often as you can while you’re away.

With this line of work, you take out what you put in. I put everything into qualifying and have come away with many people who I would consider lifelong friends.