An Introduction to Marine Engineering in the UK - HMS
introduction to marine engineering

An Introduction to Marine Engineering in the UK

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    What is marine or maritime engineering?

    Engineering uses science and maths to find solutions for real-world problems. Marine engineering deals specifically with sea vessels: ships, boats and on and offshore installations. Specifically, the science, architecture and machinery that supports them. Breaking this down further, marine engineering might involve design, repair and maintenance work, pipework, installation, construction, operational duties and control systems. 

    Marine engineering is a varied industry, encompassing a wide variety of roles, skills and expertise. Let’s take a look at what the work of a marine engineer involves, the qualities they hold, and a few examples of marine engineering projects. 


    Introduction to marine engineering: what does a marine engineer do?

    Also referred to as maritime engineers, a marine engineer designs, constructs, maintains and repairs a sea vessel’s mechanical or engineered components. This could be one of several mechanical systems, such as electrics and power generation systems, fuel systems, water distribution, propulsion systems and more. A marine engineer may be based on a ship, in an office, at a dockyard or even underwater. 

    Typical duties might include:

    • Building and repairing boats and ships
    • Working on leisure boats or superyachts
    • Installing and repairing a variety of onboard systems
    • Undertaking marine surveying
    • Ensuring engines, components and systems work safely
    • Keeping up to date with laws for safety and environmental protection


    Compliance and Health and Safety in Marine Engineering

    Health and safety should always be paramount in any industry. This is definitely the case for anything to do with maritime. The risks that come with regular use of dangerous machinery are combined with confined spaces, working at heights, and being at or near the sea. 

    Any marine engineering organisation will likely have dedicated personnel to handle health and safety, compliance, and be responsible for keeping staff up to date with any required training. There may also be sensitive information that must be protected, such as with Hythe Marine Services which operates within the defence sector which, amongst many other responsibilities, involves helping maintain Royal Naval vessels. We also ensure our marine engineers are operating to the highest standards, such as retaining Lloyds Coded Welder certifications and ensuring all of our welders hold Certified Visual Welder status.


    What qualities and skills does a marine engineer need?

    The demand for Marine Engineers and Naval architects is expected to grow 12% from the year 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The marine industry is a demanding field, and so maritime engineers require a variety of skills and qualities to succeed in the industry. Such as:

    • Complex problem-solving abilities
    • Effective communication
    • In-depth understanding of mathematics and physics 
    • Teamworking and leadership
    • High level of attention to detail
    • Ability to use and repair complex machinery and tools
    • Use a variety of software e.g. for computer-aided design (CAD)
    • Be prepared to work at sea or away from home for long periods
    • Sound technical and manufacturing knowledge
    • Budgeting and project management 
    • Knowledge of maritime – commercial, leisure and defence


    Examples of roles within maritime engineering

    • Pipefitter
    • Welder
    • Technical director
    • Compliance management
    • Project manager
    • Engineer
    • Financial management
    • Carpenter


    Project Examples from Hythe Marine Services

    Although primarily focused on servicing and repairing sea vessels, the skills of a marine engineer are cross-vocational. This means that we have worked on some really interesting projects over the years.

    Emergency repairs to Juvenile Leukaemia treatment storage

    A shelf in a freezer unit had warped, which meant the shelf was no longer distributing freezing oil evenly around the plate. The Juvenile Leukaemia treatment vials have a cost of £30k per vial, so the urgency to fix was paramount. 

    Creating industrial-style planters for Idris Elba’s London wine bar

    Porte Noire got in touch with the HMS team looking for bespoke planter boxes that would be on display at the front of the bar. The project request was for the planters to have a modern, industrial look and feel, to complement the bar’s rustic-meets-contemporary interior.

    Repairing 72ft Challenger Yachts for a sailing charity 

    The Challenger yachts undergo surveys to keep them maintained, which on a recent occasion alerted the Tall Ships Youth Trust to an issue. A repair was required, so the team reached out to Hythe Marine Services to complete the work. 


    Get in touch to discuss your next project.