The BTA has awarded its special Tug Personality of the Year Award to Captain Roger Towner in recognition of his close association and excellent services to the tug industry over a long period. Roger has consistently delivered outstanding achievements to improve the Tug sector’s key training concerns and worked with us to enable delivery of BTA Training Record Books for ratings and officers, finalisation of the draft (yet to be published as an MGN) on the Tug Route to Officer Certification and Voluntary Towage Certification.
The BTA would also like to congratulate the good efforts from every member of Roger’s team that allowed us to develop the education that will provide new opportunities for young apprentices and be able to train the work force with key specialist skills.
Roger was born in Portsmouth in 1951. In 1970 he went to sea as a deck cadet with Trident Tankers serving on various product, black oil and gas tankers. In the mid 70s Roger joined Ben Line Steamers serving on general cargo ships mainly in Europe and the Far East before moving into Ben Line’s chemical fleet in 1979 serving as Mate then Master on small tankers around the European coasts from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
His last years serving at sea were with British Telecom on cable ships around the Europe, Eastern Pacific and Far East waters from 1994. During his time at sea Roger in addition to obtaining a Master’s unlimited certificate also completed a geological science degree through the Open University.
After serving 26 years at sea Roger came ashore in 1996 and joined the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (then known as the Marine Safety Agency). . as a Nautical Examiner and rose to the position of Chief Examiner in 2002 and Head of the Seafarer Training and certification Branch.
In addition to the normal challenges of the Chief Examiner role, Roger has played an instrumental role in the development of sound and appropriate training arrangements for UK and International seafarers as a result of his close association with the STCW Convention and working relationships with maritime training providers both in the UK and abroad.
Following a promotion in 2008 Roger became UK Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen. In this role he heads up all statutory arrangements in relation to UK registered vessels and the qualification of seafarers who hold UK issued Certificates of Competence in addition to retaining his responsibilities as Chief Examiner.
Through out his time at the MCA Roger has played a very active role in promoting the reputation of the UK Ship Register, helping to grow the flag steadily whilst at the same time maintaining its position as one of the world’s leading Ship Registers.
Roger lives in Southampton and has three children ranging in age from nine to thirty –two. In his spare time he is Chairman of the Gosport Living History Society and re-enacts as a 17th Century surgeon in his historical village.
Roger’s acceptance speech
Good afternoon ladies and gents
My very sincere apologies for not being with you today, but unfortunately a prior
engagement in Fort Lauderdale has meant that I have 25 candidates to examine
this week in sunny Florida. It’s a really awful job but someone has to do it.
However, just for once in my life I’m almost lost for words. Almost.
It is difficult for me to say how much I appreciate this award and to have an
important industry sector acknowledge and appreciate the contribution of my staff
and myself is quiet fantastic.
When I started in the MCA many years ago I mentioned to my new boss that I
had to wait a long time to hear from them about getting the job. “Oh yes”, he
says, “that’s because the guy who actually got the job decided not to come…”.
I hope that is not the case today!
Whilst accepting this nomination I would like to say just how much I would like to
express my thanks to people such as Dai Coombes and Saurabh within your org
and to Damien Crowley and Philip Wells of the MSA for their help in pushing
things forward with regards to industry qualifications. I hope that we will not be
meeting NEXT year saying that “we are nearly there”. I think that we really are
getting there now with both the bespoke tug qualifications and with the voluntary
towage endorsements and I would like to thank all concerned for their unstinting
Whatever happens gentlemen, don’t let anyone down play the skills and
expertise that you and your crews exercise on a daily basis. There are expert
skills required in all sectors, be it looking after multi-millionaire guests on large
yachts, catching herring in the Minches or loading acrylonitrile in Ventspils.
However, let no one say to someone that they are “only” a tugmaster.
I wish you all the very best of evenings and wish that I could be there with you
My very best regards