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Eleanor joins PLA's Thames patrol as 'work experience' for a maritime career

PUBLISHED: 11:13 08 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:24 08 December 2016

Eleanor on board PLA survey vessel Maplin

Eleanor on board PLA survey vessel Maplin

PLA

Teenager Eleanor Pettem never had a maritime career on the Thames on her 'radar'—but now has a taste for it when she leaves school after her work experience on patrol with the Port of London Authority.

Eleanor tests sonar sdoundings in Thames estuaryEleanor tests sonar sdoundings in Thames estuary

The 16-year-old decided to get in contact with the PLA after seeing them patrolling the river while rowing with the Explorer Sea Scouts to see if she could get some hands-on experience.

They gave her a chance with the hydrographic survey team which uses radar to bounce sound off the riverbed to test depth, aboard the PLA’s new survey boat Maplin.

“This is something I learned about in my geology class,” Eleanor explained. “The survey team produces colourful 3D models of anything that is found in the river like ship wrecks.”

Tower Bridge like you've never seen before... how London's iconic gateway appears on a sonar screenTower Bridge like you've never seen before... how London's iconic gateway appears on a sonar screen

She learned how the data is fed into maritime charts to help large vessels navigate the Thames without running aground.

The PLA is taking part in Skills London exhibition tomorrow and Saturday at east London’s Excel Centre in Becton, which is expected to draw school-leavers and career seekers from all over London. It is running its #CareersOnTheThames project at stand 105.

Eleanor finished her work-experience week in Port Control, which is like air traffic control of the river monitoring shipping over 600 square miles round-the-clock, 365 days a year.

Now Eleanor wants to take the helm to study for a maritime careerNow Eleanor wants to take the helm to study for a maritime career

“I was surprised how fast-paced Port Control is,” Eleanor recalled. “They have a huge responsibility for ships throughout the enormous area covered by the Port of London and its 70 terminals.”

Eleanor admits a maritime job wasn’t really on her “radar” as a pupil at south London’s Graveney Secondary, but is now looking into studying for a career on the Thames.

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