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It is no secret within the global marine industry that we are still in the throes of a substantial downturn in business that began even before the price of oil started to drop significantly from June 2014.

Somehow, fortunately, the majority of companies seem to be managing to survive although there have been many casualties along the way, affecting businesses that end up closing down and ones that have to downsize their workforce.

One of the knock-on effects of the situation is when professional associations such as the North East Coast joint branch of the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology and Royal Institution of Naval Architects hold their annual Dinner Dance at Newcastle Civic Centre.  In its heyday the place was always stuffed to the gunnels and fully booked with a waiting list of hopeful companies and individuals wanting to attend.  Surprisingly, considering that Tyneside has been affected to a degree by the doom of the past few years, this year’s dinner dance was once again extremely well attended.

Of course there were stories being told of some misfortunes but overwhelmingly the atmosphere was very positive with an abundance of references to local design innovations for new vessels and marine equipment, professional marine consultancy expertise, manufacturing advances and exceptional educational standards.  In the latter case, Newcastle University’s School of Marine Science and Technology and the 153 year-old South Shields Marine School within South Tyneside College are both significant players on a world-wide basis and enjoy tremendous marine student success rates.  In February of this year South Tyneside College was named the UK’s top college and the best for overall provision of further education.

Julie and I attended the event, as we have done for the past 20 years, and we were buoyed by the ‘ever positive’ attitude of the vast majority of people we spoke to, which resonated throughout the whole evening.  Great news for our area and the world-wide marine industry at large.