OYT North help Merchant Navy students put theory to the test

Foundation degree students at internationally renowned marine training college, South Tyneside College are putting their classroom theory into practice thanks to a unique partnership it has formed with sail training charity, Ocean Youth Trust North (OYT North).

The students, who are studying a three year foundation degree in Marine Operations have this term been on two weekend adventure sailing trips along the east coast to not only test their theory based learning, but to bond and improve their team working skills in an environment away from the classroom.

Commenting on the partnership, Kate Gillespie, Foundation Degree Marine Operations Programme Leader said, “Due to recent changes in the course structure we found that our students weren’t getting their first opportunity to put their training into practice until at least 6-9 months into the course, which we felt was too long.”

“Thankfully the answer to our problem was on our doorstep. We contacted OYT North’s General Manager Steve Lennon to discuss the opportunity of using the James Cook and immediately we saw the benefits of working together and letting the students get onboard and put their training into practice.”

Whilst onboard the students were under the guidance of Skipper Grace Metcalfe, and tested their skills in watch keeping, ships lights and shapes, ship recognition and chart work, as well as working as part of a team to navigate the James Cook along the coast.

Student Sam Evans (24) said, “This trip with the OYT North really helped bring the class together as a unit. We could see each others strengths and weaknesses and helped each other out when we were cold, tired and feeling a little sea sick.”

Student Jack Robson (22) said, “It was a great experience and it showed me that I can do things if I want too, that I didn’t think I could – it was brilliant.”

Commenting Steve Lennon, General Manager of the Ocean Youth Trust North said, “We’re delighted that we’re able to work closely with South Tyneside College and provide their students with such a valuable resource.

“The trips have been very successful and the feedback from the students shows that sailing with us not only helps young people develop essential team work skills but gives them the confidence to come out of their comfort zone and try new things. We look forward to welcoming them back in the Spring.”

For further information about Ocean Youth Trust North please visit  If you would like to book a sailing trip or request further information please email or phone Rachel in the office on 0191 257 1212.

For further information about the wide range of marine courses at South Tyneside College please contact 0191 427 3592 or visit

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