Maritime London Officer Cadet Scholarship (MLOCS) is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year. MLOCS is a charity run entirely on a voluntary basis, and over the past 30 years it has raised over £3 million and trained over 100 merchant navy officer cadets.
To highlight the important work and opportunities that MLOCS offers potential seafarers, former cadet Tom Booth shares his experiences:
Looking back on my cadetship with MLOCS gives me many a fond memory. To this day, with 10 years at sea and my cadetship long behind me, I still believe I was very lucky to be able to have such a varied cadetship through the sponsorship of MLOCS and London offshore consultants.
When I started my career at sea I was very naive. I knew I wanted to travel the world but, to be honest, I didn’t have a clue about what path I wanted to take within the maritime industry. I wanted to try as many different types of ships as possible during my cadetship to help me discover what sector of the industry I’d like to end up in once qualified as an officer of the watch (OOW).
During my cadetship, I was lucky enough to go on cargo vessels, RoRo ferries and cruise ships. My final contract on a cruise ship was aboard one of the world’s most luxurious vessels during their annual world cruise. It was a fantastic eye opener during which I travelled to four continents and far too many countries to name. After completing that contract I knew where I wanted to continue my career once qualified.
Like many newly qualified OOW’s, finding any role is hard enough, let alone in the luxury passenger side of the industry. However, due to my cadetship with MLOCS, I was invited to lots of events in the city of London, and this allowed me to meet a range of people from a host of shipping companies. Due to this valuable exposure, which many other cadets never get offered during their training, I was fortunate to be offered a number of jobs in a variety of sectors once qualified. However, I finally decided to take up an offer with the luxury cruise company that I had sailed with during my final contract as a cadet.
Since gaining my OOW license I have never looked back. With MLOCS kick-starting my career, I was given opportunities I never thought possible. Since qualifying, I have gained my chief mate unlimited license, I am a qualified scuba diving instructor and a qualified submersible pilot, and I gained all of these qualifications while sailing all over the world.
Having spent time as a deck officer on luxury cruise yachts and expedition vessels, I have also gained other qualifications such as ice navigation certification and I am also qualified to instruct STCW courses (which I now do during my leave periods at home).
It’s hard to believe that due to MLOCS’s fantastic sponsorship I was able to complete all my professional education without a penny of student loans or personal expense.
Unlike many sponsoring companies, MLOCS has also taken a great interest in staying in contact with me after my cadetship, showing a real interest in how my career is progressing. In the coming years I am hoping to transition into a shoreside role and MLOCS is still helping me 10 years on, advising me how best to achieve my next career goals.
An MLOCS cadetship is really one of a kind and the support and opportunities it offers young seafarers are truly special.
If you would like to receive further information, apply or donate to MLOCS, please visit the website.
Maritime London Officer Cadet Scholarship is a Registered Charity (No. 1013834).