Cadets swap air for sea


Cadets and staff from 379 (County of Ross) Squadron recently visited the Port of Cromarty Firth, Invergordon. 

The pair of visits spread over a week enabled the RAF Air Cadets to experience first-hand the role and function of the port’s Pilot boat crew, which afforded them access to the brand new Interceptor Pilot boat Dalmore.

The Port has just taken receipt of this new boat. It will replace the current vessels that have been operating in the Firth for between 35 and 45 years. Port of Cromarty Firth is a hub of economic activity in the Easter Ross area generating £275 million per annum.

The first group of cadets during their visit.

The port’s team of marine Pilots and launch crews are responsible for the safe navigation of vessels in and out of the Cromarty Firth and the port has been welcoming cruise ships since 1978, with 109 ships visiting the Firth in 2019. During the first visit the cadets experienced how the Pilot disembarks from a cruise liner when they got up close to the Norwegian Spirit as it steamed out of the Firth, and observed the Pilot exiting the ship and boarding one of the port’s other Pilot boats.

The second group of cadets.

During the second visit, the cadets didn’t have the thrill of a cruise liner to follow but got the opportunity to observe the many oil production platforms currently in the Firth. They then made their way out to the mouth of the Firth to the coastal batteries on the headlands of North and South Sutor which protected the port of Invergordon and the Cromarty Firth during the First and Second World Wars. Perched on cliffs at the narrow entrance are a series of underground bunkers, tunnels, searchlight positions and gun emplacements which were designed to protect the British fleet from enemy attack. The deep, sheltered waters of the Firth provided a perfect haven for the warships and a steel mesh boom was even stretched between the two headlands – the Sutors – to block any incursion by German U-boats.

Oil platforms at the port.

Officer Commanding 379 (County of Ross) Squadron, Flying Officer David Anderson, said: “What a fantastic opportunity for our cadets to experience the role of the Pilot boat crews and to observe the Firth in a completely different perspective while on board the Dalmore. It has been a fantastic opportunity to experience the functions of a local business and a possible employer. The RAF Air Cadets is all about providing experiences that might not otherwise be available and exposing our cadets to areas of business and opportunities that might interest them in the future whatever they may go on to do. A huge thank you to the team at the port for helping us organise the trips, and experience that both the cadets and staff will cherish for many a year.”

Graham Grant, Marine Support Manager, Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “It was our pleasure to welcome the RAF Air Cadets to the port and what better way to show off the wonderful Port and glorious Firth than on board our brand new Pilot vessel the Dalmore. Our team enjoyed the opportunity to explain our role and function within the Firth.”

• The Port is a Trust Port with its main base at Invergordon. The waters of the Cromarty Firth offer safe, sheltered deep berths and anchorages suitable for the largest cruise ships from around the world and oil-related business, including the decommissioning and storage of drilling, exploration and accommodation rigs.


Getting close to a cruise ship.

Reserve Forces