Our coastline is constantly monitored and navigation aids rely on a small fleet of vessels that operate around the country to keep them in working order. Trinity House support vessel MV Mair based in the port of Barry is one such vessel. I’m lucky enough to speak to one of the senior crew members (mainly because he’s my dad) about MV Mair’s routine maintenance, Andrew Wright.

What is the role of MV Mair?

Mair carries out navigation buoy maintenance work for Trinity House Lighthouse Service. We are based in the Bristol Channel but can go anywhere on the coast of England and Wales. We have assisted in rebuilding beacons, modernisation on lighthouses.

We can spend up to three or four days at sea. We also work as far away as Dover on the south-east coast, around to the Scilly Isles and as far north as Workington in the Lake District.

MV Mair in Gloucester

How often does MV Mair need to be in dry dock?

We dry dock annually for two to three weeks. When we are in dry dock our area is covered by the THV Galatea or THV Patricia.

THV Patricia, photo copyright

What kind of things need doing when in dry dock?

The vessel is painted from bottom to top in dry dock, depending on the condition of paintwork whether we do any shot blasting, this year we water blasted the entire accommodation block to bare metal, had some remedial welding done and a repaint. The sea valves in the bottom of the vessel are stripped and rebuilt whilst the vessel is dried out in the dock. Sometimes we see rust we don’t know about, this is treated or cut out and new metal welded in. Every five years the propellor shaft is drawn and inspected for wear.

MV Mair in dry dock at Gloucester

How important is the maintenance, how often is it performed?

We are constantly carrying out maintenance whenever work is quiet, which does not happen very often. Sometimes if we are standing by waiting for technicians working on lighthouses we get a chance to touch up paint or carry out periodic maintenance.

Maintenance being performed on MV Mair

What will MV Mair be doing following dry dock?

We are assisting with personnel transfers at Mumbles Lighthouse, during helicopter operations to transfer equipment to the station for a major modernisation on the lighthouse, accommodation pods and fuel, water are being airlifted on for technicians to live in during the work.

Equipment drop-off at Mumbles Lighthouse

Pictures from the maintenance

The bow of MV Mair in dry dock

MV Mair after maintenance

MV Mair is regularly spotted in the Bristol Channel. For more information on Trinity House and the work that they do with the support of vessels like MV Mair, visit their website.