A FORMER harbour master and master mariner has set course for new horizons using his nautical experience and skills, launching his own marine consultancy firm.

Captain Mike Nicholson from Chester le Street, County Durham, has launched Shipmove, a consultancy offering practical solutions for ships, ports and people.

His latest projects involved specialist navigation for civil engineering projects and advice on port operations, particularly with three proposed new bridges in the East of England.

Work is now going ahead on the Lake Lothing Third Crossing in Lowestoft and the Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing following navigation simulations and input into risk assessments, while Mr Nicholson's guidance on navigation through the Ipswich Upper Orwell Crossing was used in its design planning.

Mr Nicholson's first involvement with bridges from an engineering standpoint was Gateshead's Millennium Bridge, where he moved sixteen planned protection piles which he found unnecessary.

He said: “The Gateshead Millennium Bridge project was what started me looking at how my maritime expertise could be used in ways other than traditional vessel management and pilotage.

"I started looking at things afresh and challenging the traditional way of doing things.

"I now have a significant body of knowledge and innovation that I can use to help anyone who needs specialist advice from a marine perspective."

As well as marine advice to civil engineering projects, his recent work includes advising on navigation strategies and the tug requirements of a new terminal for an oil major.

Mr Nicholson has also been an expert witness for a ship owner whose vessel was written off due to failings in a Ports Safety Management System where his auditing experience proved particularly useful.

Starting as a cadet at South Shields Marine College, his experience at sea spans 15-years before he came ashore to work as a pilot and harbour master at Seaham port.

Mr Nicholson was then appointed at the Port of Tyne where some achievements included bringing the QE2 to the river, helping to build up the Port’s cruise ship business and managing the marine aspects of the 2005 Tall Ships Race, which had the largest ever collection of Class A ships ever assembled

He added: “I realised when I was promoted to Captain, aged 29, exactly what the term 'the buck stops here' meant; I have lived by that philosophy ever since.

"Part of the attraction of working for myself at Shipmove is that no two days are the same and that I am helping to improve safety, the environment and port security by passing on my nautical knowledge and experience.”