Over three days in early June, IIMS hosted its first international in-person event since the pandemic in and around the Southampton area in the UK. The event consisted of a Directors’ dinner, quarterly management board meeting, formal dinner, Annual General Meeting and the main conference itself.
The dinner, held at Chilworth Manor Hotel, drew over 50 attendees from all branches of the surveying profession. The beautiful evening allowed diners to congregate outside on the patio before dinner was served. David Pestridge said Grace, followed by Peter Broad, who proposed the Loyal Toast. Guest speaker, Neil Roberts, Head of Marine & Aviation at Lloyds Market Association gave an excellent address after dinner.
Peter Broad had chosen as his charity this year the Tall Ships Youth Sailing Trust. IIMS agreed to match the total raised on the evening and an amount of £1,270 was finally donated.
At the Conference dinner, IIMS chose to publicly recognise two people who have made a big contribution to Institute life, but in very different ways. Here is a transcript from Mike Schwarz’s dinner speech announcing the presentations, which were presented by Peter Broad, IIMS President.
He said, “It is now my pleasure to announce two prestigious Blue Water Awards and in doing so, I am recognizing two people who have been fundamental in underpinning the work of the Institute over many years. Both are long-standing friends and colleagues from entirely different industry sectors and backgrounds.
“Karen Brain is someone who has never shied away when I have asked her to give a talk to members, or to write an article for The Report Magazine. She has run the very successful PI insurance scheme for IIMS members and has helped many a surveyor who has faced insurance challenges, particularly in recent times post Brexit. I am immensely grateful to you Karen and it gives me huge pleasure to invite you to come up to receive the first Blue Water Award this evening.
“IIMS subsidiary, the Marine Surveying Academy, has had great success in the area of superyacht coatings inspector training through its Registered Marine Coatings Inspector qualification over the past nine years. Some years ago, we publicly recognized Ken Hickling for his help in this area. Ken is here tonight but sadly I can’t give you another award Ken, although Hilary and I remain deeply grateful for everything you have done to develop and promote the RMCI programme. “I can, however, publicly recognize Gareth Thomas of Akzo Nobel who, along with Ken, has done the most impressive job of repurposing the RMCI content and reinvigorating the programme. I met Gareth on my first trip to METS in Amsterdam when he was but a sallow youth and me a mere young middle-aged man! Look what’s happened since! Gareth it gives me great pleasure to ask you to step forward to accept this Blue Water Award.”
AGM & Conference 2023 on 7th June
Although the numbers attending, both in-person and online, were lower than expected, the quality of the presentations was of the highest order. President, Peter Broad, opened both the AGM and Conference proceedings and was generous in his praise of the head office secretariat. He went on to share his personal concerns about the drop in surveying fees and where the next generation of marine surveyors is likely to come from.
IIMS Chief, Executive Officer, Mike Schwarz, said, “I am immensely proud of the imaginative programme that we collated for this event. Great speakers on a variety of on-trend topics, coupled with good food and excellent company, made this a memorable event. If I have one sadness, it is simply that not enough members engaged with the programme and that causes me to think about how (and if) we might deliver a similar event in the future.”
Annual General Meeting
A small audience was in the room and were joined by more online to participate in this year’s AGM. Mike Schwarz gave a thorough overview of the Institute. In his opening slide, he commented, “A pleasing year of steady profitable growth across the organisation, encompassing further technological enhancements and sensible investments.”
Online voting on just two matters was closed at 16.00 the day before the AGM. The results of the voting were as follows:
a) Re-election of the Management Board en-bloc
In favour 25
b) Proposed fee structure for 2024 membership
In favour 22
The acceptance of the proposed fee structure means they will rise in 2024 by Area 1 (4%); Area 2 (2%) and Area 1 (1%).
One decision that will affect all members was taken at the earlier management board meeting. It has been decided that from 2024 plastic membership cards will not be automatically issued in an attempt to further reduce the carbon footprint of the Institute. Cards will be available electronically to all members, but there will be a mechanism in place to enable those who wish to have a plastic card to request one.
The video of the AGM is freely available to view on YouTube.
After a short address by Peter Broad and a quick presentation by Mike Schwarz, the morning’s plenary session was underway and opened by Ian Bartle, something of an expert in lithium-ion batteries. His presentation included some frightening imagery which he used as a means to demonstrate the challenges associated with this technology.
Dr Mike Lewus, author of the IIMS Professional Qualification in Marine Corrosion, never disappoints his audience and once again he enthused delegates with his in-depth encyclopaedic knowledge of marine corrosion. He concluded his presentation with a live scientific experiment which included a fish tank, electrodes and some locally sourced seawater.
After an excellent buffet lunch provided by the Axis Conference Centre, the room and audience divided in two.
In the commercial ship arena, veteran marine surveyor, author and educator, Mike Wall, spoke eloquently having travelled to attend from Thailand. His subject? Developing Technologies and Practices Within Commercial Marine Surveying.
Dr Alexandros Ntovas and George Alexios Ntoules, both based locally, joined the meeting to give an insightful update on the progress with autonomous shipping and a glimpse into what lies ahead.
The Institute was especially pleased that Per Åge Nygård was able to accept an invitation to speak having come from Norway to present. In his presentation, entitled ‘Buyers’ perspective when appointing a marine surveyor’ he delivered an expectation and understanding of what is required to ensure a successful business relationship between buyer and surveyor.
The last presentation of the day for commercial ship surveyors was delivered by Jeff Wilson, Managing Director of Van Ameyde Marine, an international firm employing over 70 surveyors. As he spoke about his topic – Future challenges for marine survey – the sting and surprise were most certainly left until his very last slide!
Over in the other room, yacht and small craft surveyors were famously entertained by the legendary Sir Robin Knox Johnston. He spoke about some of the challenges he has faced between his company Clipper Ventures and maritime regulators over the years. He took a number of audience questions and then answered some that had been sent in prior to the event, many keen to know about his circumnavigation of the globe back in 1969.
Paul Madeley, based in Palma, followed to share his extensive knowledge of electrical surveying on large yachts and demonstrated not just his expertise, but also his enthusiasm for this subject, which is often misunderstood by surveyors due to its complexity.
Friend of IIMS, Karen Brain from Matrix Insurance Ltd, the conference sponsor, was in the room to close the day as she discussed the duty of care that a surveyor is expected to provide from a legal standpoint. As always, the audience listened intently as she spoke knowledgeably about her topic.
To conclude this highly successful event, Peter Broad and Mike Schwarz came together to host a 20 minute discussion and brief explanation of AI technology and, in particular, ChatGPT. This involved asking some questions through the platform itself relating to marine surveying, the accuracy of answers surprised and impressed everyone.