New harbour master takes the helm at Portsmouth International Port

New harbour master takes the helm at Portsmouth International Port

Portsmouth International Port has appointed Ben McInnes as its new harbour master. Ben will replace the current incumbent Rupert Taylor, who retires after nearly 30 years at the port, 19 of those as harbour master.

The responsibilities of harbour master cover all statutory functions of managing the harbour, including port marine safety, environmental and conservation of the harbour, as well as health and safety ashore and afloat.

The job includes the management of the pilotage service, ensuring that commercial vessels entering the busy harbour have on-board assistance from the port’s team of pilots, who are all navigational experts possessing knowledge of the water’s depth, currents, and hazards. 

Rupert Taylor said: “The time has passed by so quickly. It’s been exciting to be involved with so much change, and a delight to play a part in helping Portsmouth International Port go from strength to strength. Investment in new facilities over the years has made a big difference, and the future plans will help to ensure that the number of ships visiting the port can continue to increase.”

Ben McInnes was born and raised in Portsmouth, and spent his childhood playing around on boats in Portsmouth Harbour. Ben first went to sea from Portsmouth International Port as an assistant steward on the Pride of Bilbao, washing dishes and making bunks. He then set sail with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) on a 12-year career from cadet, to first officer, gaining master mariner certification in the process.

During his time in the RFA he took part in multiple operations, from counter narcotics and disaster relief operations in the Caribbean, through to conflict situations in Afghanistan and Libya. More recently, Ben has been working to achieve Class 1 Pilot status and learning the various elements of harbour management in order to pass the UKHMA harbour master certificate.

Ben said: “I felt very lucky to get the role of pilot and deputy harbour master at Portsmouth International Port, and I am immensely proud to have been offered the harbour master position. I have a passion for the city, the harbour and of course the football club. I look forward to building on Rupert’s work, and helping to keep the harbour safe, clean, successful and prosperous, as we look to expand the business for the future.”

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, who own and operate Portsmouth International Port said: "Helping to manage one of the busiest waterways in Europe for three decades is a huge responsibility. On behalf of Portsmouth, I'd like to thank Rupert for his service to the port and the city. Here's to a well-deserved and happy retirement."

Mike Sellers, Port Director, added: “During his time at Portsmouth, Rupert has gone above and beyond to help promote the port, helping to secure our existing cruise calls alongside carrying out his statutory role with the utmost professionalism at all times. We all wish him well in his retirement.

"I’m looking forward to working with Ben in his new role, which I have every confidence he will excel at. He takes on the position at a very exciting time for us as construction will soon commence on extending our cruise berth.”

Ben will assume responsibility for the port from 1 October.

Picture above: Ben McInnes (L) and Rupert Taylor (R) at Portsmouth International Port