Heritage, history and growth: a lifetime of naval architecture design

Hythe Marine Service (HMS) is the leading turnkey provider of design, engineering and repair services to the marine, civil engineering and waste management sectors.

This family run business is known predominantly for their delivery of quality engineering and fabrication work, combined with their ability to seemingly drop everything to complete what others might refer to as “mission impossible” projects.

What many people don’t realise however is that there is a hidden gem within this modest business. In-house HMS retains an experienced team of shipbuilding engineers and designers, with full SC clearance, and a vast background in commercial and MOD projects. Design talent that dates right back to the 1960’s.

The roots of Hythe Marine’s relationship with design, many people may know better, under the company names Mathon Engineering, and then later as Avrotech Design. Two companies with a rich historic connection to naval architecture that were absorbed by HMS a number of years ago.


Who were Mathon Engineering and Avrotech Design?

Mathon Engineering, was set up in May 1961 and specialised in the supply of contract designers to the government, who then set them to work on varied projects; such as the construction of Type-45 battle ships, right through to submarines and super yachts. Mathon Engineering worked closely with the MOD, as well as warship design and construction company, Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd.

Mike Cook-Yarborough, who worked for Mathon Engineering and Avrotech Design in the 60’s and 70’s commented, “The most impressive projects we worked on must have been the support work that we completed for the Royal Navy and BAE Systems. This included working on naval ships such as HMS Bulwark, Tyne, Severn and Mersey and some others that we can’t talk about!”

Mathon Engineering Netherland BV opened in 1970 supporting all the major shipyards in Holland, before later being renamed as Avrotech Design.

“Whilst working in Holland I completed many concept designs for tankers as well as a high-speed passenger catamaran car ferry, the first of its kind. The reputation that came with Mathon Engineering and Avrotech designers and engineers was outstanding, their skill at that time, was unrivalled,” Mike commented.

Since being absorbed by HMS a number of years ago the team have been busy working on a range of extensive design projects, from naval submarines to carrier ships and bespoke super yachts.


Building the future of naval design talent

HMS has been working on submarine designs for many years in Barrow, under the request of BAE. The team are leaders in the field, through their innovative use of a lifetime of naval design pedigree and industry knowledge, partnered with the introduction of new modern technologies and applications.

When asked about the future of naval architecture and design Josh Mathias, Managing Director at HMS commented, “Our reputation for providing bespoke solutions to unique projects, by combining both modern and traditional craftsmanship, has been the best source of new projects for our team. We have secured a number of contracts around the globe through our ability to combine the skills of the past, with the talent of the future. Many people don’t realise that the roots of our business came from naval architecture and design. Simply put, it’s in our blood.

It is however imperative that our team retain and develop the skills brought on-board from Mathon and Avrotech to take us forward into the future. This is why apprentices make up 10% of our workforce. We are making great strides toward shaping the talented designers and engineers of the future, something myself and the team are incredibly proud of.”


Firm Foundations

HMS have a strong presence in Southampton, Portsmouth’s naval base, Trafalgar Wharf in Porchester as well as Plymouth, Rosyth and Barrow-in-Furness. The team are deployable 24/7 around the world and are continuously working to create a one-stop-shop of dependable, innovative in-house capabilities, from one-off bespoke projects through to full refit projects and management packages.

Speak with any member of this close-knit team and you will quickly realise that their emphasis on continually inspiring their workforce, and instilling rigorous quality standards, is an ethos adopted by everyone.

A lifetime of pedigree, mixed in with Josh’s vision for technological advancement and personnel development, seems to be a winning formula for the crew at HMS and personally we can’t wait to see what the next fifty years bring.


Looking to find out a bit more?

A careers starter: Hythe Marine Services apprenticeship scheme

An interview with Hythe Marine Services apprentice Tyrrell Ford. Take a look behind the scenes into the life of an HMS apprentice.


About Hythe Marine Services

Hythe Marine Services (HMS) is the leading turnkey provider of engineering, fabrication and repair services to the marine, civil engineering and waste management sectors. They currently employ 10% of their workforce as apprentices across different trades within the business, which includes pipe fitting, welding, light and heavy fabrication and hands on machining, to name a few.

We spoke with Tyrrell Ford who is currently participating in the apprenticeship scheme to find out more about his experience with Hythe Marine Services.


How did you find out about the Hythe Marine apprenticeship scheme?

I was in full time education studying Marine Engineering and as part of my course I had to complete a weeks’ work experience. I contacted Hythe Marine Services, who offered me the experience for five days and at the end of that time they suggested I join them on their apprenticeship scheme. As I was still completing my course, they worked with me to ensure that I could finish it, allowing me time off when needed to complete my studies.


 What interested you in the Hythe Marine apprenticeship scheme?

I was in the workshop with the teams for that initial week and saw what went on behind the scenes. I was made to feel like a part of the family within that first week and was able to get an insight into all the different trades, after that I knew I wanted to be part of the Hythe team.


What have been the highlights of the apprenticeship scheme for you?

There are so many highlights, I don’t know where to start. One of the important life skills I have learnt is how to work well within a team. As an independent family run business, I found that all staff and managers are very dedicated to making the apprenticeship a success, both as a scheme and for each individual. Everyone has spent so much time with me ensuring that I have the skills required to tackle all projects.

They supported, and paid, for me to complete driving lessons during work time and paid for my driving test too. Clearly this is a benefit to the company going forward but also a hugely independent step for me and the other apprentices.

As well as learning all the skills required for fabrication and welding, Hythe Marine Services are now supporting me through my 3.0 CSWIP welding inspection course, designed for welders who carry out the visual examination of welded joints. The apprenticeship is linked to NVQ and City & Guilds qualifications, with training in partnership with Highbury College, Southampton University, PETA and BAE Systems, so I will complete the apprenticeship with lots of knowledge and new qualifications.


What is your normal day like on the apprenticeship scheme?

Every day is different, there are different jobs going on at all times, some are long-term projects and others are shorter one-off tasks. One of the most interesting jobs I take part in is weld tests on different materials to see what passes and fails. Thanks to this apprenticeship I am skilled in dealing with a large variety of materials.

This training has also enabled me to conduct 6G pipe tests on the Type 45 Royal Navy vessels, guided missile destroyers. Some days, I can’t believe this is my job!

Many staff at Hythe Marine have been there for quite a few years and they’re all very encouraging of the scheme and not at all threatened by us young newcomers. They seem to be so happy to share their knowledge.


What is your plan post apprenticeship?

I started my apprenticeship in 2017 and it’s a three year scheme. After completing the apprenticeship, I am guaranteed a job with the team. Our main base is in Portsmouth and at the moment I am mainly based there, because of the time I need to spend at college, but it is normal to spend time on some of the other sites too, like Rosyth and Barrow.

I am planning to stay at Hythe for as long as possible as they are very keen to highlight capabilities and push you to be the best that you can be. I imagine the future will involve welding expansion courses, as I have taken a real interest in the welding side of the business.

As part of the apprenticeship we attend first aid and health and safety training and in the future I may complete a safety management courses as well.

I really enjoy doing the scheme, I like being hands-on with things and would rather be earning money whilst I am learning. There are lots of staff at Hythe that have been here for a long time and each one of them has  provided a huge amount of support for me, it’s a family run business and we all feel like a part of it.

I would like to eventually give something back to Hythe by supporting future generations of apprentices.


Join the Hythe Apprenticeship Scheme

If you’re interested in becoming a Hythe Marine apprentice simply get in touch with our team via our website. In your email enclose a copy of your CV along with an outline of what you are interested in doing. We also need you to provide a point of contact, a brief description of how you heard about us and why you want to do an apprenticeship with Hythe Marine in particular.

Upon review of your application a member of our team will get in touch. The next steps would be to bring you in for a week to a month to give you a proper understanding of what you will be signing up for, in addition, this helps us to get to know you better. After this process, if all is a good fit, you could be looking at being our next apprentice!

I was made to feel like a part of the family within that first week and was able to get an insight into all the different trades, after that I knew I wanted to be a part of the Hythe Team.