What could a qualification in Fishing Vessel Engineering lead to? Meet Jason White who oversaw the build of Ireland's leading marine research vessel.

Meet Jason White – a successful marine engineer, who began his sea career at just 16 aboard a white fish trawler. Jason completed the Marine Engineering Course in 1991 at the National Fisheries College of Ireland in Greencastle, after which he moved up the ranks and most notably was appointed Chief Engineer, overseeing the build of the RV Tom Crean for the Marine Institute.

Jason spoke to us about his seafaring and marine career so far.

My career at sea started from the age of 16 when I joined the crew of a white fish trawler and as always was the case, last man in was Cook! Time passed and although I was enjoying the job, I heard about a new course starting at the Fisheries College in Greencastle, which would lead to a qualification in Marine Engineering. I had always enjoyed tinkering with engines and electrics, so I applied for a place.

I managed to get an interview, so I travelled to the BIM offices in Dun Laoghaire. I had spent some time a couple of summers previously painting the boat on the synchro lift in Dunmore East while also pulling the Prop and Shaft, and I recall telling the story about this which must have made a good impression as I was accepted onto the course. We started in February 1991, and we were the first group of Class 3 fishing vessel engineer trainees.

The course lasted about three years between classroom-based learning, workshops, and seagoing experience. I was lucky enough to get placements on two of the most successful Pelagic vessels in the country at the time.

After completing the exams successfully and with my Certificate of Competancy (CoC) in hand, I secured work on a large Beam Trawler where I spent three years, taking a couple of months out, to again travel to Greencastle to obtain my Class 2 CoC.

It was about this time I heard about opportunities in the North Sea on platform support vessels and decided to try my hand. At the time fishing vessel certificates were excepted on safety standby vessels so this was the gateway into a different industry.

I joined Tidewater Marine as Second Engineer and during my stint onboard the safety standby vessel, Evans Tide, I completed the required sea time to convert over to Merchant Marine qualification.

I served on several types of vessels in my three years with Tidewater both in the North Sea and Mediterranean including Supply and Anchor Handlers.

It was while I was on leave at the end of this time, I spotted an advertisement in the Irish Times for Second Engineer onboard the national fisheries survey vessel Celtic Voyager. Thanks, in part, to my previous experience in the fishing sector, I was offered the job. I found out there were plans afoot for the even more impressive Celtic Explorer, so I decided to upgrade my CoC to meet the requirements for the larger vessel.

I spent some time on the building of the Celtic Explorer and sailed as Second Engineer for the first years of operation. I also obtained my Chief Engineer qualification.
Then came the announcement of a new vessel to replace the Celtic Voyager, and I was appointed as Chief and oversaw the build in ARMON Spain. This diesel electric vessel, built to a high specification was launched in Spain and arrived back in Ireland in July 2022.

Since then, I have been busy overseeing the warranty period and setting up a new planned maintenance system onboard.

Looking back to that first class of 91, I could not have imagined all the vessels and all the places I have worked, and the opportunities that followed.

The Fishing Vessel Engineering Course has returned to the National Fisheries College of Ireland in Greencastle and will begin in October 2023. For more information click here