The chairman of Tyneside subsea robotics firm Soil Machine Dynamics is among nine others to join the board of the newly established Global Underwater Hub, tasked with growing the UK's £8bn subsea industry.
Mike Jones, who has worked for SMD for more than 29 years in various roles including design engineer, project manager, managing director and CEO, is part of an "exceptionally strong" board that will help steer the organisation, which was born out of Subsea UK last year.
Mr Jones joins Sue Barr, chair of the Marine Energy Council; Rear Admiral Paul Halton, director submarine support in the Royal Navy, and Zander Bruce, subsea operations manager at bp North Sea, among others.
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The organisation - which is due to open a Newcastle base in the next 12-18 months - is lead by former SMD CEO Andrew Hodgson as chairman, and chief executive Neil Gordon.
Mr Hodgson said: “We have assembled an exceptionally strong team for the Global Underwater Hub board which reflects the breadth and diversity of both the industry and regions, ensuring the new organisation can deliver value and growth both here in the UK and around the world.”
Mr Gordon added: “Each of these appointments bring specific sector experience, knowledge, and a shared passion for the underwater sector. I’m looking forward to working with Andrew and the GUH Board building on the underwater supply chain’s world leading position in the global Blue Economy.”
The Global Underwater Hub already has an Aberdeen base and will also open a Bristol office, alongside the planned Newcastle base.
It aims to promote cross-sector collaboration between companies, organisations, industry bodies, technology and innovation centres, and academia across the UK, and drive export growth.
The Hub will also help industry to develop skills and capabilities to build the country's competitive advantage.
Rear Admiral Paul Halton said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Global Underwater Hub board at such a vibrant time for the sector, where I’m keen to use my 37 years of experience in the underwater environment to contribute to shaping the considerable growth opportunities for the UK as we move towards a high value, blue economy.
"There are significant benefits from industries developing this transformational technological advancement, especially in remote or autonomous maintenance techniques and operational capabilities, bringing financial and time savings, as well as better outcomes.”