Port People- Ashley Moore

Port People: a look at the wide variety of careers available at Belfast Harbour. This month we speak to Port Controller Ashley Moore.

Name: Ashley Moore
Position: Port Controller

1. What does your average working day entail?

We work a six week rotating shift pattern (early shift, late shift and night shift). Night shift is very different from the other two shifts as there are a lot less phone calls. We plan and execute shipping traffic movements to and from Belfast and monitor all movements within the port. A normal day will include a lot of communicating on the radio, lots of phone calls and record keeping.

2. What qualifications are required for your job?

Although our job title is Port Controller, we can also be called VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) Officers. We are required to have a V103 qualification and go on a refresher course every three years.

3. What other skills do you need in your role?

The majority of the people that we communicate with on the radio do not have English as their first language. We therefore communicate using message markers and SMCP (standard marine communication phrases). A lot of patience is still required. We are continuously planning ahead. When we take over a shift the next two hours, at least, will already have been planned, but you still need to be flexible with a plan B.

4. What’s the best thing about your job?

I have always lived and worked in a marine environment, therefore my job and my leisure time are closely linked. Salt water is in my blood.

5. What’s the most common question people ask when they find out what you do?

My job can be difficult to describe (see ramble above) but when you say it is like air traffic control only with ships then everyone seems to understand. We have visited George Best Belfast City Airport and there are a lot of similarities between the jobs.

6. What advice would you give to those considering a career in your profession?

Yes, go for it. Belfast Harbour has strived to create job progression. Two of the Harbour Masters were previously Port Controllers.