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Life On Board

Beginning a career at sea

July 23, 2009

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Life On Board


Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 411 days


Welcome and thanks again for the continued feedback. There’s a lot to chat about in this blog including a special guest Blog from Ned Tutton. Firstly in answer to Dave Meineck’s questions about the carpets on Queen Elizabeth I can tell you they will be similar to the ones on Queen Victoria with accents of red on the Port side and blue on the starboard side. Meanwhile regarding Linda Crooks’ question about Queen Elizabeth’s horns, it was a nice suggestion but I have been reliably informed Queen Elizabeth will have her own. Before we get to our gust Blogger here’s a very busy “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week, 24th to the 30th July:


July 24 1990

An estimated 1 million spectators greet QE2′s maiden arrival in Liverpool marking Cunard’s 150th Anniversary


July  25 1943

Queen Mary carries 16,683 troops from New York to Gourock in Scotland, the greatest number to be ever conveyed on a single voyage – a record that remains to this day


July 28 1938

Mauretania II is launched at the Camel laird Shipyard in Birkenhead


July 30 2006

A traditional bagpipe procession signaled a jubilant send-off for Commodore Ronald W. Warwick following the conclusion of his farewell transatlantic crossing in Southampton.



I first met Ned Tutton when he was a cadet on Queen Mary 2 and in talking to guests on this Blog and on board I know many of you are interested to see how the Cadet programme works and Ned was kind enough to help when I met him recently on Queen Victoria as a 3rd Officer. Ned began his sea-going career on domestic car ferries and sailing ships. In 2005 he started his cadetship with Cunard and later Carnival UK during which time he served on Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary 2 and Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess. Qualifying in 2008 he returned to Queen Mary 2, and then was appointed to Queen Victoria where he is currently serving as 3rd Officer. When on leave Ned is never very far from the sea as he lives on the Isle of Wight, and spends his time sailing, walking and visiting friends and indulging in his part time hobbies of music and theatre.



Guest Blog – Third Officer – Ned Tutton

I grew up on the Isle of Wight, and although I have lived inland, deep in the country of the south central part of the island, being only twenty five miles wide and 15 miles tall, one is never very far from the sea. My Grandparents all had connections to the sea, through the Royal Navy during World War 2, as port agent of Medina Wharf in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and a long line of Lighthouse keepers.


My grandmother lived in Cowes, and I spent a great deal of time with her when I was in my early years. I was always fascinated by watching the ships passing by on their way to Southampton and Portsmouth. One of the great excitements was a trip to Southampton on the Hydrofoil as the route passed the ships tied up in the docks in Southampton. One ship that I remember in particular was a beautiful dark hulled liner with a red funnel that I was later to find out was the Queen Elizabeth 2. Little did I ever think I was to work on her in later life!


The idea of working at sea was never really a serious proposition, and my seagoing life was limited to crossing the Solent on one of the ferries, and occasionally the English Channel, but this made me very seasick! When I was sixteen I was given the opportunity to sail on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s square rigged tall ship Lord Nelson, which kindled my passion for tall ships which endures to this day. My wish to work at sea full time was finally came to fruition when as a deckhand on the Isle of Wight Car ferry, I decided I wanted greater challenges, and one day to be Captain of my own ship.


In the UK we are fortunate to have a system similar to a traditional apprenticeship in that a company will sponsor you through your training usually in return for a short return of service. I applied to, and received interviews with, three of the most respected names in UK shipping, namely Cunard, P&O Princess Cruises and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.


The interview for P&O Princess Cruises and Cunard, which are under the umbrella of Carnival UK, took place at Warsash Maritime Centre, in Hampshire. The first day involved written, mathematical and psychometric tests and in the evening we were taken out for a meal; I don’t know if our table manners were being assessed or not but I’d to think so! The second day was the formal interview with the training managers which seemed to go quite well, and just three days later at the age of twenty I had a received an offer of a cadetship from Cunard. In fact I was one of the last people to do so, as P&O and Cunard now combine their recruitment as they are united under Carnival UK.


The Cadetship is split between time at college and time at sea. At college we study the academic subjects such as Navigation (and yes we still learn celestial navigation which involves standing on the college roof with a sextant!), Law, Business, Management, Ship Construction and stability to name a few. We also take courses in Seamanship, Fire-Fighting, Sea Survival and Radio Communications. Different training schemes vary in how this is achieved, but I studied for an HND Level 2 in Merchant Vessel Operations.


To achieve your final qualification you must spend at least 12 months at sea and complete a task book demonstrating one can carry out the practical aspects of shipboard operations from mooring, to anchoring, and navigating to painting! The NVQ I took split this into two halves: Learning to be a seaman, then learning to be an officer. Looking back I am a strong supporter of this system as it allows one to see both sides of the operation, and to have better understanding and empathy with those who are working for you.


My first ship as a cadet with Cunard was on QE2 and the initial feeling was one of bewilderment. As many people will attest, QE2 took a little time to get to know one’s way around! It didn’t help that at the time I embarked a drill was taking place, and the entire ship was shut down with all the fire screens closed. I was trapped in the Lido for half an hour before being pointed in the right direction! QE2 had a wonderful atmosphere that made one feel immediately like one of the family. I was certainly made to feel extremely welcome from the very beginning by everyone onboard, and it was good to be reunited with the family when I joined Queen Victoria earlier this year, albeit in a new home!


My training continued on board Queen Mary 2 where I spent three tours of duty, and then on Diamond Princess, after which I spent one final period at college before passing an oral examination at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.  Four weeks later, (two years and eleven months after first becoming a cadet), I walked back up the gangway of Queen Mary 2 as 3rd Officer


As 3rd officer I am known as the, “Officer of the Watch”, and my immediate aim is to pass my “Chief Mates” Certificate of competency, which will enables one to serve as Chief Officer on a cargo ship or second officer on a large passenger ship. Then I would take my “Masters” certificate of competency which allows one to sail as Master or Captain on any ship. Between each level is eighteen months sea time, which works out at about two and a half years including leave, and then six more months at college, so from Cadet to Captain normally takes at least nine years. The four most senior deck officers onboard (Captain, Staff Captain, Chief Officer and Navigator) are qualified Masters, so although it may take nine years to be qualified as master, it is not usual to earn command of a passenger ship for another few years.


In terms of my future I think it difficult to foresee exactly which way my life will lead, but it definitely involves being Captain!


I’d like to thank Ned for a great article and a fascinating insight to a unique career. I’ll be back again soon with more news from the ships and of course answers to your questions. Cheers Alastair.

  1. Theresa Arrowsmith says:

    I would like to thank Ned for his fascinating blog on his career to date.
    My own son Carl is currently serving his Cadetship with Clyde Marine. He is just coming to the end of his Phase Three at Fleetwood and will be home on leave at the end of July for an unspecified amount of time before returning for his next sea phase(4).
    He will be given instructions in the next few days as to what ship and where to join her.
    His Sponsor company is Zim and has previosly served on the Zim Panama which he joined in San Francisco last November and returned home in time for Easter and his birthday.

    As we live on the Wirral close to the river Carl has always had a fascination for the sea. Lots of family and friends across the generations have worked in Cammell Laird.

    My paternal grandfathers brother was on his first trip as a seaman on the Lusitania when it was sunk.

    Carl first voyage on a cruise ship apart from the Mersey Ferry was as a child on the Cunard Princess. He made another two trips on the Princess before she was sold off. Since then he has voyage on the QE2 a number of times as well as fitting a trip on Caronia before she was sold off. He has also voyaged on QM2 a couple of times, latterly with his cousin Martin who now is a converted cruiser.

    While I am looking forward to Carls homecoming I will be sad to leave him behind as he arrives we will be leaving to join Queen Victoria on her voyage to the Baltic. We are looking forward to sailing on her as it is our first voyage on her, our friends have just returned from their first cruise aboard her on her recent midnight sun voyage.

    Over the many years many Cunard employees have influenced Carl and chatted to him informally about life aboard ship including last but not least Commodore Warwick.

    I hope my comment on your blog hasn’t bored you too much but I must close as I am off to photo Crown Princess alongside in the port of Liverpool.
    Enjoy Cherbourg
    Theresa x

  2. Freddie Paynter says:


    I’m sorry to bother you again but I have one more question that I just thought of last night. On one of Queen Elizabeth’s deck plans, it says ‘Alternative Restaurant’. I am wondering if this will be Todd English like on QM2 and QV, or will it be a completely different one?

    Thanks again,
    Freddie Paynter.

  3. Donna and I really enjoyed Ned’s noontime commentary during our QV 09 World Cruise: you could tell he really loves his work!

  4. Baxter says:

    Dear Alastair,

    Do you know what the artwork will be in the new Queen Elizabeth’s Britannia Restaurant? I am curious to know if it will follow the first Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Elizabeth 2. You see, I’ve noticed that both Lizzies had a seahorse theme to the art in the main restaurants. Be a nice way to tie her in with them anyways! Thank you for keeping us all up to date with this new Queen. I always enjoy reading your blog.


  5. Janaina Klang says:

    Please, I would love to know the exact conditions of bringing a show dog onboard? I would love to know if I can keep my show Field Spaniel who is 30 pounds in my cabin, … while I travel, …

  6. Anthony Jr says:

    Mr. Greener,

    I am now actually enrolled in Massachusetts maritime Academy. I will not be doing internships untill about my junior year her at MMA, but I desperately want to be a cadet for Cunard Line at some point here. Is there anything I should be doing until that time to prepare? I know that in Cunard’s history they have only had one american officer, so anything that is possible for me or my school to start on would be awesome. Like I said before though, this is all two years in advance, so there is absolutely no rush for now, i just want to be prepared because the chance to get a cadetship in Cunard is too sweet to pass up. Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated. I hope I am not annoying you with all these questions, it’s just something I have wanted since I was 13, so I am a little ambitious as you can see! Anyway thank you for your time and have a great day.
    Anthony Gaiani

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