Town to become centre of maritime excellence

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PETERHEAD’S Maritime Heritage Centre at the Lido is set to become a stunning new centre of excellence in maritime training.

The Centre, which was once branded a ‘white elephant’, had originally started life as a heritage museum before being taken over by Banff and Buchan College in Fraserburgh last year as a satellite centre for studies during the refurbishment of the main college campus in Fraserburgh.

The college has since held a large number of maritime courses at the Blue Toon centre and the installation of a state-of-the art full bridge simulator at the end of last year highlighted its commitment to maritime training.

The Transas fishing/merchant vessel full mission bridge simulator is an extremely hi-tech innovation and Banff and Buchan College is the only college in the UK to offer this facility.

John Buchan, Nautical Curriculum Leader, told the Buchanie at the time: “The new simulator deals with all aspects of ship handling and covers a multitude of skills which the students have to have which are now part of the MCA legislation for skippers and mates tickets.

“A wide range of locations are covered and at the moment we have a very realistic simulation of Peterhead Bay and harbours - every detail has been taken into account.

The latest announcement came last week when it was revealed that the venue would now become a ‘centre of excellence’ with the launch of the Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead.

Revealing the plans, the college said that the maritime centre was likely to be closed to the public until October this year to allow for refurbishment works to take place.

A spokesperson said: “There will be no access to the cafe or public toilets during this time.

“Robertson’s Construction (Northern), which recently completed the £24m main campus refurbishment in Fraserburgh, will undertake the works. “They have advised that public access to the playpark area will be along the front of the centre as the rear of the building will be fenced off.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience the closure will cause but look forward to opening the refurbished centre in early October and engaging further with prospective students, fishing organisations, local community and businesses.”

Commenting on the news, Peterhead skipper Jimmy Buchan, star of the BBC Trawlermen series, said he welcomed the move.

“This will certainly help put the Blue Toon on the map and I think it will be an excellent facility for everyone involved in the maritime industry,” he said.

Peterhead Port Authority chief executive John Wallace added that the port was assisting Banff and Buchan College in its plan for the creation of a maritime academy at the Lido.

“We are assisting them by housing some of their classroom requirements in vacant offices that we have and we have made them available to the college at no cost to assist them in their plans,” he said.

“We see this as a fundamental cornerstone in any nautical educational institute and are fully behind them.

“I think the college continues to offer a high level of education and certification and would hope to strengthen our relationship in order to combine our resources to provide this service in the North-east.”