Electric finish to annual BMEEA Apprentices Competition

Seawork’s Training and Careers Day saw the winners of the BMEEA Marine Electrical Apprentices Competition announced after a hard-fought real-time technical battle of skills.

18 teams from seven companies; Sunseeker, Platinum Marine Services, RNLI, Atlas Elektronik, Berthon, Cobra RIBS, and Oyster took part in the annual competition, held for the second year running at Seawork. The task, set on the day, included design, calculation, standards, wiring up, and the all-important ‘Does it work?’ A very high standard was achieved with little to separate the top 3 teams.

The winners were Connor and Chris from Sunseeker, who received the sparkling glass winners’ trophy and two fully loaded technical rucksacks courtesy of CK. In second place, and receiving two Weidmuller Crimp Sets, were Charlie and James from Platinum Marine Services. Third place went to Sidney and Oakley from Sunseeker who each received a CK technical rucksack.

Thanks go to Paul Holland and Daniel Cox from Energy Solutions who built the rigs and managed the competition on the day, Richard Broden-Cowell from Bournemouth & Poole College who organised and transported the teams, Ian Lewis from Weidmuller UK for his judging skills,and Derek Gilbert, Chair of BMEEA, who presented the apprentices with their prizes. Special thanks for hosting the competition goes to Seawork, celebrating its 25th edition this year.

Winners Connor and Chris go forward as finalists to the newly announced British Marine Apprentice of the Year Award which will take place later this year at the Southampton Boat Show. The competition is open to all apprentices who are currently active on any apprenticeship standard offered by their organisation – from Business Administrator to Marine Engineer, first-year newcomers right up to those in their final assessment stages.

The British Marine Electrical & Electronics Association, BMEEA, comprises manufacturers and waterside dealers who provide advice, sales, installation and service of marine electronic and electrical equipment.

Image courtesy of Seawork/Ocean Images

BMEEA Code of Practice Edition 6 has been published, get your copy now!

The British Marine Electrics and Electronics Association (BMEEA) is proud to announce the release of the BMEEA Code of Practice Edition 6.

The sixth edition of the code is a significant update, combining several important elements:

  • Small craft DC and AC International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards into the single standard ISO 13297:2020
  • International Standard for Electric Propulsion Systems ISO 16315:2016
  • Additional guidance on the installation of Photovoltaic (PV) systems.

The BMEEA wants to help the industry better understand how to ensure alternative propulsion systems are installed and operated safely.

The BMEEA will also be releasing a new electric propulsion short course to complemet the existing BMET in the coming months, and will be announced and soon as it is available.

The BMEEA Code of Practice is the industry guide to safe electrical installations on small craft, used by manufacturers and installers alike, it is one means of complying with the RCD/RCR and recognised within the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Small Commercial Vessel Codes, this new edition brings the new updated standards to the UK marine Industry and supports the UK’s transition to Net 0.

The price of the new BMEEA Code of Practice Ed 6 is £140 for members, and £200 for non members.

The CoP is 0% VAT Rated.

To order your copy please email technical@britishmarine.co.uk

If you are a member and wish to order please ensure your member company name is on the email.

And the winning apprentices are…

Congratulations to the 12 teams of apprentices that competed in the BMEEA   (British Marine Electrical and Electronics Association) Apprentices Competition held at Seawork’s Training and Careers Day.

The winning team were Elena and Louis, both apprentices at Sunseeker, who, in addition to the BMEEA Apprentices Competition winners’ trophy, each received a back pack of electrical tools courtesy of CK Tools and a crimping tool set from Weidmuller.

Runners-up were Oakley and Sydney, also apprentices at Sunseeker, who each received a crimping tool set from Weidmuller.

The marine business Level 3 apprentice teams from Sunseeker, the RNLI, and Cobra Ribs competed in real time to design the controls for a motor, including necessary calculations, and wire a system up using the test rigs provided.

Apprentices were required to provide the circuit diagram for their designed system, calculate the size of cables required to meet ISO standards and wire up their rigs. Clear marking, neatness, adherence to their wiring diagram and, of course, the fact that it worked were all important factors when it came to the judging, expertly carried out by Ian Lewis and Dan Cox.

Thanks go to Ian Lewis – Weidmuller’s Sales Development Engineer, Dan Cox of Energy Solutions, Richard Broden-Cowell from Bournemouth & Poole College, Keith Meadowcroft – BMEEA Vice-Chair and  Derek Gilbert – BMEEA Chair  who presented the winners with their trophy.

The winning team of Elena and Louis will be invited to attend the BMEEA Annual Conference in October.

A great day and a great competition with a fantastic group of enthusiastic and committed young people, these apprentices will go on to be the highly qualified marine electrical engineers of the very near future and a vital injection of skills into the vibrant and diverse marine industry.

Full article from Seawork is available here

BMEEA annual Apprentices Competition, 15/06/23

Marine business Level 3 apprentice teams are set to compete in real time to produce a fully working electrical system at the BMEEA Apprentices Competition to be held this year at Seawork .

Up to twelve teams will take part in this year’s edition of the annual competition which will take place on the morning of Thursday, the 15th of June during Seawork’s Training and Careers Day.

Derek Gilbert, Chair of the BMEEA said, “ I am absolutely thrilled that the BMEEA is able to support the apprentices and delighted that so many teams are going to participate. We are especially pleased that this annual competition is taking place on Training & Careers Day at Seawork highlighting apprentices as the future of our industry.”

The winners will be announced on the day at Seawork and will also be invited to attend the BMEEA Annual Conference in October.

Full article is available here


Due to the ongoing COVID situation, the BMEEA postponed the annual conference but held the 2020 Annual General Meeting via Zoom.  Normally several awards would be presented during the conference, but due to the circumstances, only two awards were made for 2020, these being to the Newly Certificated Electronic Technician of the year and to the Newly certificated Electrical Technician of the year.

The BMEEA is determined to recognise the efforts and achievements by apprentices and engineers alike within the leisure marine industry, to continue to drive standards up through attaining industry relevant qualifications.

BMEEA Newly Certificated Electronic Technician

The award for Newly Certificated Electronic Technician of the year, sponsored by Raymarine was presented by Tim Davies of BMEEA to Joshua Ross, a fourth year Apprentice at Berthon boat Company

BMEEA Newly Certificated Electronic Technician 2020
Joshua Ross, BMEEA Newly Certified Electronic Technician of the Year 2020 Photo Credit: Berthon


BMEEA Newly Certificated Electrical technician

The award for Newly Certificated Electrical technician of the year, sponsored by Fischer Panda , was presented by Keith Meadowcroft of BMEEA to Jack Penty of P & S Marine

BMEEA Newly Certificated Electrical technician 2020
Jack Penty, British Marine Newly Certified Electrical Technician of the Year 2020 Photo Credit: Tom Pattle of P & S Marine.

The recipients were chosen by the BMEEA based on their excellent exam results as well as feedback from their course tutors, they were both delighted to receive their awards in recognition of their hard work and commitment to raising standards and qualification.

Celebrating to his contribution to the UK marine Industry – Tony Johns

Every committee works as a team, your BMEEA committee comprises a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and committee members, sometimes it is interesting to put faces to the team and the attached article very comprehensively sums up the BMEEA Secretary – Tony Johns!

We have been lucky to have benefited from Tony’s services  for the past 25 years and is a veritable fountain of knowledge, freely divulged to all enquirers!  Please read the attached synopsis published courtesy of Boating Business ,  in celebration to his contribution to the  UK marine Industry.

Article in the magazine

The article is also available online at: https://www.boatingbusiness.com/news101/people/profile-tony-johns

Impact of lightning or electrostatic charge

Whether it be a direct hit or near strike, the likelihood is that all electronics on board a vessel will have some measure of damage caused by a direct lightning strike or close proximity to a significant Electrostatic discharge.

Given the nature of an integrated system onboard of electrics and electronics it is impossible to predict what route the static discharge will take as is goes to ground and it also depends whether the boat or boatbuilder or installer made any precautions to try to protect against such an event.  

The damage to equipment, cabling and ancillaries can be immediate and components are blown up instantly or damage can be partial and the components will fail at an indeterminate period thereafter.  It is also likely the majority of other electrical equipment onboard will either be damaged or partially affected and will prematurely fail at some future point in time.

The Electrostatic discharge will cause random damage to PCBs and especially will destroy ICs and flat pack devices, as well as arc across copper tracks completely or partially severing them.

There is limited protection which can be provided to electronics to protect against static damage, simply due to the massive energy levels involved, however, installations can be given limited protection, simply by bonding all rigging to deck fittings and to an independent grounding plate using appropriate sizes of copper strapping will offer a reasonable level of protection.

The provision of lightning protection should be considered if the craft is intended for use in an area where there is likely to be a high incidence of electrical storms, for example inland lakes, Caribbean, North East Asia are all areas of significant Electrostatic activity.

There is a standard ISO 10134 : 1993 for lightning protection on small craft.


Lightning protection is the provision of a direct low resistance path from the masthead to a ground plate on the craft. It should be noted that lightning tends to take the shortest path. The connection from each mast or air terminal should be in a straight direct path vertically down to low level then horizontally direct to the ground plate on the hull or to a metal keel.

Usually the mast, rigging, stanchions and toe rail are all bonded together and are grounded to the sea through a grounding plate, this offers a good degree of protection, but again, depending on the size of discharge may still not offer a complete solution


The zone of protection is equivalent to a cone, its point coincident with the top of the mast and the cone having a radius round the craft equal to the height of the mast and centred on the mast base – for example this can be formed by the effective bonding together of mast, shrouds and other standing rigging.


To provide an adequate lightning grounding conductor the entire circuit from the top of the mast or air terminal shall have a mechanical strength and conductivity not less than that of an 8 mm2 copper wire conductor., this can also be in the form of flat copper tape or strip of a similar cross section area.


Any metal surface which is submerged in the water in any condition of heel or trim and the wetted surface area of which has an area of least 0.1m2.

Metallic radio ground plates or dynaplates may be used for the lightning ground connection.


i) Complete protection from equipment damage or personal injury may not be achieved and is not implied.

ii) Craft with metal hulls, if there is electrical continuity between the hull and the mast or other metallic superstructure of adequate height, no further protection against lightning is necessary.

iii) If a craft has been stuck by lightning, the compass, electronic and electrical gear should be checked for damage or change in calibration.

It is the customer’s/ boat builder’s responsibility to ensure the equipment onboard is correctly and effectively bonded and grounded and adequate lightning protection is provided

Our recommendation to customers is to completely replace all electronics that are in the affected circuit – replace cabling and switch gear since they may also have been damaged or burned as well as replacing any associated ancillary equipment which may also have been affected.


RFi Interference from LED lighting

Radio Frequency Interference RFi takes many forms and is a term generally used to cover the impact of uncontrolled Radio frequency emissions from one piece of equipment adversely affecting the performance of another piece of equipment.

The increasing use of LED lighting onboard vessels has coincided with an increase in interference affecting the performance of onboard VHFs, AIS, GMDSS and GPS systems.  There are various published articles referring to one of the causes of the interference being attributed to the LED lighting systems themselves, whether the power supply, the transformers or even the lighting drivers themselves.

Examples range from situations where a maritime rescue coordination center in one port was unable to contact a ship that was involved in a traffic separation scheme incident by VHF radio. The ship involved was experiencing very poor AIS reception. AIS is dependent of using the VHF frequencies on the VHF radios for their communication links and are often integrated into the VHF transceivers. Other ships have experienced degradation of the VHF receivers, including AIS, caused by their LED navigation lights. The problem can be particularly severe when the LED lighting is installed near to the VHF antenna which has been shown to compound the reception problems which could account for the focus on navigation light sources of LEDs.

In a second example a customer installed two new LED spreader lights and both his VHF radios cut out when the lights are turned on. The power bar screen looked like he was transmitting on one of the radios and the other one just appeared dead even with local weather on. He never had any problems the previous year using halogen lights with the same wiring set-up.

A Final example was another customer just installed an LED tri-colour and an LED anchor light simply by changing a lightbulb. However, whenever the light is turned on (either one) he can only hear static on all stations on his VHF, no matter where the squelch is set.

LEDs don’t produce RF noise, however the LED drivers do.  Although LEDs are efficient, the brighter ones do create heat which must be dissipated. As with any diode, a constant forward voltage applied sufficient to heat the device will cause current to increase, and if not limited will cause thermal runaway, causing it to fail. To avoid this problem, electronic LED drivers are necessary to regulate the current and maintain specified luminosity as input voltages vary and the LED heats up.

Low power LEDs that dim when voltage is reduced do not have regulators and will not cause RF interference. When regulators are used, LED drivers are normally part of the LED package itself.

The most efficient LED drivers operate with high switching frequencies which are necessary to reduce heat generated by the drivers as well as to minimize current consumption. The downside to this energy efficient LED driver switching circuitry is the generation of radio interference at higher frequencies. Switching circuitry has long been a source of HF interference.

Isolating the cause

It may be possible to test for the presence of LED interference by using the following procedures:

  1. Turn off all equipment onboard to create a full ‘quiet ship’ condition, this includes electronic navigation equipment, onboard domestic equipment, heaters, refrigeration, lighting systems, power generation equipment, pumps, fans and any other electric motors as well as engines. Disconnect any external power sources to effectively shut the vessel down.
  2. Turn the vhf radoio on, if possible only use a hand held vhf to eliminate any possible power supply induced interference
  3. Tune the vhf to a ‘quiet’ channel for example channel 13
  4. Adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the radio just outputs audio noise.
  5. Re-adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the audio noise is quiet, only slightly above the noise threshold.
  6. Turn on the LED light(s).
  7. If the radio now outputs audio noise, then the LED lights are causing interference and depending on the level of this interference it could prove difficult to receive valid signals on that channel. If the radio does not output audio noise, then the LED lights are not causing a problem.

If the interference noise is found to have been raised, then it is likely that both shipboard VHF marine radio and AIS reception are being degraded by LED lighting.

Currently there is no EMC standard widely recognized by manufacturers of shipboard LED navigation and deck lighting.

Until a standard for shipboard LED lighting installed within three meters of VHF antennas is recognized, the best solution may simply be to ensure that any LED light purchased is warranted and then to perform EMC tests once installation is completed.

In short, those who may be considering use of LED vs incandescent lighting onboard their boats or have boats which have been manufactured with LED or CCFL lighting, please note that LED and CCFL lighting may interfere with receivers within marine electronics (ex. GPS receiver circuitry), communications equipment (VHF radio receivers, AIS receivers), and AM/FM receivers within entertainment systems. If experiencing such issues, the customer should test their systems under quiet ship conditions (to now include switching off all LED and CCFL lighting.  Should the problem persist, then the customer may need to revert to incandescent lighting onboard the vessel.