FEARS FOR FUTURE OF UNI VESSEL
Claims cuts could force sale of Prince Madog... but uni says there are no plans to impact on research
AN AM has raised fears that a £2.8m research vessel could be leased out or even sold amid university funding cuts.
Anglesey’s Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has written to Bangor University’s vice chancellor to seek clarification over the future of the Prince Madog, which has been a familiar sight on the Menai Strait for many years.
The state-of-the-art, purpose-built research vessel, commissioned by Bangor University, has been in service since July 2001.
Capable of accomodating 10 scientists and 20 students, it enables marine experts to study our seas, while also being used by other university departments as a teaching platform, training the next generation of marine scientists.
But Mr ap Iorwerth says staff have approached him with concerns that the vessel could be leased or sold, with the univer- sity looking to make cuts of around £8.5m.
A spokesperson for Bangor University confirmed they have “no plans nor commitments” that would impact on their planned teaching or research activities, and no third-party charters in place for 2018.
But it is understood from senior ship crew that options are being considered that could result in the ship being sold.
Mr ap Iorwerth has raised concerns that, as a result, it would “seem inevitable that the majority of its local crew would lose their jobs.”
The Ynys MÔn AM said: “The Prince Madog is not only an iconic sight to us who know the Strait well, but it has also become a symbol of the excellence of the School of Ocean Sciences.
“Many students will have been attracted to study here because of the Prince Madog and the opportunities it offers.
“As a joint venture between the university and industry it is already used commercially much of the time, which helps subsidise its academic use, but now I understand that it could be lost to current and future students.
“I hope it’s not too late and that the jobs reliant on the Prince Madog can be saved.”
One senior crew member on the Prince Madog, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I think it has to be made clear that it is not simply a concern for crew members’ jobs, but is also concerned with jobs of people operating in partnership with the vessel.
“The Prince Madog is an asset which was designed, built and funded specifically for the use and benefit of a Welsh University – why should it lose this amazing and unique asset?”
In response, a spokesperson for Bangor University said: “The university is currently committed to using the Prince Madog for 125 days per year. Currently, there are no plans or commitments made that impact on the university’s planned teaching and research activities over those 125 days.”
The spokesperson added: “The vessel’s management company is constantly required to support its viability through the sourcing of third-party charters which is an ongoing effort, however, there are currently no such arrangements in place for 2018.”
Concerns have been raised that the Price Madog may be leased or sold – sparking fears for crew jobs
Rhun ap Iorwerth AM says staff approached him to voice fears for the future of Bangor University research vessel Prince Madog