Finn Buchanan


Deck Officer Cadet Programme (SCQF Level 7)

“All of the lecturers know their stuff – they are previous seagoers so they are not just teaching they are sharing.”

Finn Buchanan is from Aberdeen but spent a lot of his early years in the western isles where his parents originate from and his extended family live.

After a difficult period at school he knew he was ready to leave at the end of S4. He had an idea that a career and sea might be for him having spoken to his uncles and cousins who are in the Merchant Navy.

He said: “I always knew I wanted to go into a physical job – I never wanted an office job. I’d heard about the Access to Merchant Navy course which was offered at Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway. It looked great so I headed over to the islands to stay with my grandparents at 16.

“I loved the course, achieved all my STCW qualifications so I could go out to sea and knew that I wanted to take the next step and apply for the cadetship. I knew that I didn’t have all the qualifications and that I would have to go back to school. This was the same time as Covid hit and lockdown happened so I stayed on Lewis and went back into S6 to gain my physics and some Highers as well.”

Finn got accepted into the Deck Officer Cadet programme through Clyde Marine Training and was placed with international shipping company Vroon and the Scottish Maritime Academy for his college-based training.

The programme is for those who would like to serve as a Deck Officer on seagoing ships of the Merchant Navy. Delivered over 3 years this offers an exciting combination of college-based training and sea phases. Finn is now close to finishing the first phase of his training,

“During the summer, whilst I was waiting for College to start I worked for my family ferrying out technicians to the windfarms at Wick, about 10 miles offshore. This gave me some seatime experience and a lot of independence and responsibility. As soon as I went out I knew definitely that it was for me.”

“I got the opportunity to work on the boat engines – general maintenance and carrying out checks before going out every day, plus lots of rope work onboard. I picked up more than I realised which has helped me here at College.”

“All of the lecturers know their stuff – they are previous seagoers so they are not just teaching they are sharing.”

The cadetship comprises of HNC Nautical Science and is at SCQF Level 7. The minimum entry requirements are 4 National 5 passes which must include English, Maths and one Science subject.