Steve Hall CEO November 2020 Update

Dear SUT Members, it’s hard to believe we’re already in November – despite all the COVID weirdness of 2020, the year has gone by quickly. We’ve still been able to keep in touch with our membership through online events, webinars, and the weekly podcasts (we’ve had our 6000th Podcast download as I’m writing this, plus streamed content) and the SUT moves towards the end of the year in better shape than we might have expected when so much came crashing to a halt back in March and April.

It’s election time for SUT Council and you’ll soon be receiving ballots for the candidates this year, please do vote, we’re making it simple yet secure with an online ballot system, so that we have our new Council in place before our Annual General Meeting on 14th December.
With so many travel & meeting restrictions still in place in the UK we’ve decided to hold the AGM online, it will take place 1400hrs UTC 14/12/20 – earlier than usual so that our Australian members can take part if they wish to, and also a time that our North American members can have a not-too-early start to join us as well.
Details of how to tune in to the AGM will be placed on the SUT Events web page and repeated in a mailing to members in good time – we hope to have an excellent speaker as well, but can’t share the name just yet as awaiting confirmation.

This AGM also marks my last duty as CEO of SUT and comes almost exactly 4 years to the day since I was offered the job. I hadn’t intended to leave you all so early, but the rare opportunity to serve the marine science, renewable energy, tourism, planning, and advocacy community in my local South West Wales region became available and I’ll be starting on 15th December as CEO of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, a community interest company that hosts among other things Marine Energy Wales, the Selkie Programme, Coastal Communities Acting Together and a number of other projects that support sustainable ocean and coast.

I’ll be supporting the development of offshore floating wind, marine renewable energy prototype testing services, environmental projects such as seagrass planting and school activities so will still be active in areas of interest to SUT, and have been asked to succeed Dr. David Kirkley as Chair of our International Committee. I’ll also continue to serve on the Defence Special Interest Group & CMarTech panel, and will assist my successor as he or she settles-in – more news on who that will be as soon as we know.
Thank you all for your support and friendship, I’ll say a more formal thank-you nearer the end date.

Online activities continue and are getting good attendance, last week we joined the Hydrographic Society of Scotland and IMCA for a paid joint event that attracted over 100 delegates. Our fortnightly public webinars attract a good level of interest, with most of them being placed on our SUT Media YouTube channel afterward.

The next one on Monday 16th features Nick Swift, Chair of our Defence Special Interest Group, and on 30th November Richard Mills will speak on Autonomous vehicles – how smart do they need to be? Check out https://www.sut.org/events/ for more information.
The next step is to get our training courses back on track with an online presence, and the members of our training committee are busy getting a series of revised courses ready for launch in the near future. Look out for announcements on Subsea Awareness Courses, a new offshore wind course, and short courses aimed at the London insurers and legal sector very soon.

The weekly podcast goes from strength to strength, and I’m pleased to report that Council Member Andrew Connolly has stepped forward to keep the series running after I’ve left SUT. Emily Boddy will edit episodes, and we’re now inviting companies or individuals to sponsor episodes if they would like to. Speak to Emily for pricing and availability. On 17th December we’re broadcasting an episode built around Questions from our listeners so get in touch if there’s anything you’d like to ask, or if you’d like to hear additional information from any of our previous speakers.

As a “Christmas and New Year Special” I was honoured to speak to underwater exploration legend Captain Don Walsh a few days ago, the first human, with Jacques Piccard, to dive the Challenger Deep to 10916m back in 1960 onboard the bathyscaphe Trieste. Don is a very sprightly 89 years old and we spoke online about his rich and varied career in underwater technology for almost three hours – I’m going to edit it into two feature-length podcast episodes that will get broadcast over Christmas and the New Year, it will be very worth listening to, a real nugget of living history. More detail nearer the dates.

Another piece of news to share is that we’ve completed the interviews for the first cohort of SUT Chartered Marine Technologists, from the pilot scheme we’ve been running jointly with the Marine Technology Society and the support of the licensing body, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology. We should be in a position to make a public announcement about who the first three CMarTech members are very soon and to start rolling out an operational version of the scheme in the New Year, subject to agreement of terms with IMarEST. I’ll be speaking to our SUT Plus members about Chartership on Friday 13th November, details on the events page if you’d like to listen in.

Finally, I’d like to send my thanks to Rex Hubbard who stands down as Chair of our Perth Branch at their AGM this month. He’s done a great job steering Perth through difficult times and has been a source of high-quality advice to me and SUT Council throughout his term. It’s through the dedication of volunteers like Rex that the SUT is able to function as a global Learned Society, and I thank him and all of you who help SUT despite your busy schedules for your effort and dedication.
I’ll be back with more news before I move on, in the meantime stay safe, stay healthy.
Steve