New boat and new jobs at the Port of Tyne01 Mar 2012
The Port of Tyne has appointed the crew for its new £1.1 million work vessel, the "Sir Bobby Robson".
The new boat is designed to do all the regular maintenance jobs that help keep the river open for shipping, from dredging the river bed to keeping the Port berths clear of debris.
The new full-time skipper is Russell Heron, 28, from South Shields. He said: "I am really proud to be working on the "Sir Bobby Robson". She is a great little boat with a lot of power to do a good job. I couldn't think of a better name - it's inspirational to be working under the name of a world-wide sports icon and local hero."
The new job means promotion for Russell who has worked on the Port's pilot cutters for six years.
He added: "The main job is dredging to keep the river deep enough to accommodate all the new, much larger ships that now come into the Port. Over the summer the river channel and the Port berths were dredged in a huge £5m project to reach the deepest ever level - 13.1m - and as a result we are now seeing some of the world's biggest cargo ships on our berths."
Ian Swinhoe, 46, from Sunderland, used to be a fisherman before he joined Russell as deckhand. "I am really pleased to have got this job - it's a great place to work and it's an important job to do. Unless the river is dredged properly, we can't continue to bring in the ships that are exporting goods such as cars and importing the fuels and other cargoes that keep businesses in the North East going."
The boat will be officially commissioned by Sir Bobby Robson's widow, Lady Elsie Robson, at a ceremony attended by representatives of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and community groups including local junior football teams that have benefited from support from the Port of Tyne.
The Sir Bobby Robson was built by Mustang Marine, based at Pembroke Dock in South Wales.