The sixth annual National Ferry Fortnight got under way on Saturday, March 15.
Organised by Discover Ferries under the auspices of the UK Chamber of Shipping, it is a celebration of the ferry travel industry from and around the British Isles, which each year serves some 38 million passengers.
To mark the fortnight, Isle of Man Newspapers is speaking to six members of the Isle of Man Steam Packet team, who are integral to the daily operation of the oldest continually operating passenger shipping company in the world. Today we meet Kane Taha.
Name: Kane Taha
Post: Marine manager
Ensuring the safe and smooth running of all Isle of Man Steam Packet sailings is a massive responsibility, but for marine manager Kane Taha it is all in a day’s work.
Kane, who has been with the company for 16 years, is the man the captains call whenever they have any concerns, as well as the company’s lead on vessel safety.
He explained: ‘My role covers the marine/ships operation for the Steam Packet Company, maintaining an effective safety management system and ensuring safe operation. I am the 24/7 point of contact for all the company captains in respect to any concerns or issues they may come across while they perform their duty.
‘My day’s work involves direct liaison with our vessels’ masters and crew, as well as other shore-based company departments to ensure day-to-day safe operation is maintained.
‘This is normally done through arranging regular inspections, auditing, monitoring crew training, investigating incidents and reviewing company and ship procedures. I am also responsible for ensuring that the chief executive is kept informed about vessel and safety matters.
‘Another important role is following weather forecast updates and liaising with ships’ captains, and the Isle of Man and UK Meteorological Offices in respect of the weather impact on our operation, and issuing the required pre-warning notices as and when needed.’
Kane also monitors issues and incidents affecting other operators to see if lessons can be learned, as well as liaising with maritime regulators to ensure compliance with current and future legislation and that company vessels meet the national and international standards and regulations.
It is also part of his job to advise on other matters which may impact on Steam Packet operations, such as the development of offshore wind farms, assessing the potential impact on routes which are the island’s main lifeline.
Kane said: ‘What I particularly enjoy is teamwork with the dedicated captains, crew and shore staff to ensure excellent service is provided while maintaining the company’s tradition of safety. I also enjoy hearing the positive feedback from the public and the maritime regulators of our commitment to, and high standards of, safe operation.’
Alongside enjoying his work, Kane counts his involvement in the recovery and repatriation of the Mona’s Queen anchor from Dunkirk and the dedication of the Merchant Navy Standard for the Manx Sea Cadets, an idea instigated by the late Captain Alan Bridson, among his proudest achievements.
Kane began his seafaring career as a cadet in 1982, and served on vessels around the world before moving to the Steam Packet in 1998. He served as captain on a variety of company vessels until being appointed marine manager in 2007.
He said: ‘There have been significant changes to the ferry industry since I started the job, with new requirements and regulations enforced with the aim of improving safe operation and training standards and protection of the environment. However, the ferry industry also faces some difficult challenges with escalating running costs and overcrowding of some coastal sea areas.
‘For the Isle of Man, sea routes are essential to the livelihood of the island’s population. The Steam Packet has a long seafaring heritage recognised globally within the maritime industry and that is something I am really proud to be part of.’