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Cromarty Firth Marine Services are determined to become the leading dive and rope access company in Scotland


By Rachel Smart


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Jason Noble, Ray Macphee, Eddie Davies and Mhari Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay
Jason Noble, Ray Macphee, Eddie Davies and Mhari Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay

Cromarty Firth Marine Services (CFMS) was built during an unprecedented 2020 by four friends that have joined forces, with an appetite for excellence they are determined to build themselves a stellar global reputation.

Specialising in commercial diving, rope access, renewables and unexploded ordinance (UXO), CFMS provides tailored and efficient packages for clients across a range of sectors.

Husband and wife Ray and Mhari Macphee, alongside long-time friends Eddie Davies and Jason Noble are the force behind the Dingwall-based operation.

They are the team for the job due to their combined total of 70 years’ experience within the industry, where together they have provided first-class results.

Cromarty Firth Marine Services
Cromarty Firth Marine Services

When Ray and Mhari got married in 2019, they were surrounded by their friends from the diving industry who suggested that the dynamic team should create a company.

Reminiscing on their journey, Eddie said: “The conversation about the business initially took place at Ray and Mhari’s wedding.

“There were quite a few of the divers there and they commented saying that we should start up a diving company – they needed work and wanted us to hire them.

“At that point Ray was working in his fishing business and Jason was offshore.

“A few months later, we had a cup of coffee and we proposed a business that would provide diving and rope access services.

“Four days later I got a letter through the door saying I was a director of the company [CFMS].”

That was in February 2020 and since then, the four have not looked back with the company completing 15,528 project man hours with zero accidents or incidents.

Each has their own role to play within the business: Mhari is the finance director; Eddie is the operations director; Jason is the operations and HSEQ manager; and Ray is the managing director.

Jason Noble, Ray Macphee, Eddie Davies and Mhari Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay
Jason Noble, Ray Macphee, Eddie Davies and Mhari Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay

Both Ray and Jason are ex-Royal Navy Clearance divers, and Eddie is an ex-Royal Marine.

Jason said: “Ray and I were clearance divers in the Navy and joined up together in 1998.

“We worked on various mine hunters and a diving branch, covering bomb disposal and underwater engineering around the UK and worldwide.

“We disposed of World War I and World War II mines and bombs that have been dropped in the sea as well as modern munitions.”

Since then, the group have worked on many complex projects together across the world, with their last employment together [Eddie, Jason and Ray] being with Global Energy Group.

Wanting to be their own bosses and with a drive to provide exceptional service, the team decided to start up their own company.

Cromarty Firth Marine Services
Cromarty Firth Marine Services

This led them to CFMS – a business encompassing their years of experience and expertise in order to deliver exceptional workmanship, customer service and reliability.

CFMS believes its key differentiator to competitors lies with the team’s military background, giving them the knowledge and experience to manage all aspects of client’s projects with military precision.

They understand the importance of minimising downtime, reducing costs and providing accurate, reliable results.

Ray, Mhari, Jason and Eddie are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their personnel, the environment and working closely with their client’s requirements.

They now have a unit at Evanton Industrial Estate and at the end of last year they purchased their own 22m multi-purpose work boat.

They are available on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Mhari said: “The boat has a large deck space allowing us to carry our containerised dive system so that we can carry out diving operations.

Cromarty Firth Marine Services, Evanton Industrial Estate, Evanton....Picture: Callum Mackay..
Cromarty Firth Marine Services, Evanton Industrial Estate, Evanton....Picture: Callum Mackay..

“We can store equipment and items such as cable protection on board and it is shallow drafted so we can load it from the beach or carry out work close to the shore.”

One of their goals as a business is to ensure that they have a first-class team who complement the ethics of their organisation.

Ray said: “We expect the people we work with to be more than capable of carrying it out.”

Humour and honesty are key pillars for CFMS as they want to build transparency and relationships with their clients and the people that they hire.

Talking about their business model, Eddie said: “It’s a mindset - transparency. With our guys and the clients.”

Ray added: “You need to be able to say if something is not working... reaching out to them and looking for ideas.

“Things don’t always go to plan. Being honest with your client is a big part of the industry.”

Another integral part of the CFMS business model is to not cut any costs when it comes to making sure that their business achieves gold standard, as they are DNV certified for ISO 9001 (Quality Management), 14001(Environmental Management) and 45001 (Health and Safety Management).

Jason said: “We want to make sure that our safety, quality and environmental standards are at their highest.

Eddie said: “We didn’t take the easy path. We wanted to commit to obtaining our ISO accreditations from the outset so undertook to do this during lockdown before the company got off the ground.

“We are continuously audited to keep our standards up.”

Not only do they want to achieve gold standard health and safety practices, but they also want to make sure that clients feel like they are working with friends.

Ray said: “We want clients to know that from the onset they have that relationship where we can approach one another.

“We like to have coffee or drinks with a client and break down any barriers so they know they can call us at 1am and it will be an ‘alright mate’ rather [than it being too formal].

“I am more about it being personal rather than a business experience.”

He added: “We like to work with them and not for them.”

Cromarty Firth Marine Services, Evanton Industrial Estate, Evanton....Picture: Callum Mackay..
Cromarty Firth Marine Services, Evanton Industrial Estate, Evanton....Picture: Callum Mackay..

CFMS also has a vision for the next five years that not only provides security for their business, but additionally for those that they employ.

When asked what the next five years would hold, Ray said: “I would like to be at the stage where we can offer further employment opportunities to the local economy and create an environment where you know you’re working with people you can trust.

“I would like for people working for us to have job stability, to feel involved in the projects we are working on and to know they will be kept busy.”

Not only would they like to help develop the local economy by providing employment, but they wish to make sure that women are also welcomed into a male-dominated industry.

Jason said: “The industry is traditionally male dominated so we want to embrace diversity with having more females involved.

“Our rope access team is already 50 per cent female.”

Eddie said: “Another thing we are looking towards for the future is mental health and wellbeing.

“We want to be prepared for when we grow that [mental wellbeing] is paramount and that we take it seriously.”

Ray added: “The atmosphere you get with us is relaxed, anyone can come and talk to us.

“I like the atmosphere of a close-knit team. I don’t like divide or us and them.”

CFMS’s aim is to become a leading supplier to the renewables sector in Scotland and the Highlands.

Cromarty Firth Marine Services, Evanton Industrial Estate, Evanton....Picture: Callum Mackay..
Cromarty Firth Marine Services, Evanton Industrial Estate, Evanton....Picture: Callum Mackay..

Mhari said: “I want people to think of us with respect, a company to look towards and want to work for and with.

“We would like to be the leading dive and rope access company in Scotland over the next five years.

“We want people to think of our quality and the good service we provide.”

SERVICES CFMS PROVIDE:

COMMERCIAL DIVING

As a registered diving contractor with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), CFMS gives each of its jobs its utmost attention with specific site and task-orientated method statements, risk assessments and dive plans.

Dive spreads can be mobilised for planned or short-notice works for onshore and near shore diving operations.

Using surface supply diving techniques, CFMS provides cost-effective services in:

-UWILD and rig inspection

-Seabed surveys

-Harbour and slipway repairs

-Wet welding

-Cofferdams

-Civil engineering

-Renewable energy including offshore wind, hydro and tidal energy

-Cable laying support services

-Consultation, classification and removal of unexploded ordinance (UXO)

-Confined space

-24-hour call-outs

ROPE ACCESS AND INSPECTIONS

CFMS rope access technicians are all trained and certified to IRATA standards which is based on thorough training and strict work at height guidelines that delivers a safe working record year after year.

Due to the benefits in terms of environment, efficiency and cost-savings, CFMS rope access technicians can assist clients where alternative means such as heavy plant and scaffolding cannot.

CFMS offer a range of services and innovative solutions to help clients get the job done in a timely manner.

CFMS have expertise in rope access for:

-Painting

-Inspection

-Maintaining structures

-Wind turbine blade repair

-Leading edge protection

-Coating repair

-Retrofit installation

-Facade cleaning, stonework cleaning and brick cleaning

-Confined space entry

Cromarty Firth Marine Services
Cromarty Firth Marine Services

RENEWABLE ENERGY SERVICES

CFMS offers innovative solutions to the renewable energy industry including hydro, tidal, onshore and offshore wind. Services include:

- Project management

- Subsea inspections

- UXO consultation and removal

- Shore end cable installation, removal & burial

- Survey execution and report writing

- Working at heights

- Confined space entry

- Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) technologies

- Blade repair

CFMS has a multitude of equipment it can deploy at short notice including, dive spreads, offshore support vessels and rope access equipment. Its IRATA rope access technicians are qualified to Global Wind Organisation standards.

CFMS offers repairs and maintenance of onshore and offshore wind turbine blades. It supplies inspections, cleaning, painting, structural repairs and the application of leading edge protection technologies.

Cromarty Firth Marine Services on the job.
Cromarty Firth Marine Services on the job.

UXO

Cromarty Firth Marine Services provides consultancy and removal of unexploded ordinance (UXO) on land and marine environments.

With vast experience and the management team’s background as Royal Navy Clearance divers they manage client’s projects with safety at the forefront, from risk assessment and survey through to detection and removal. The management of UXO risk is critical to avoid delay, unforeseen costs and possible injury.

With its track record in the oil and gas, civil and renewables sectors, CFMS can provide a tailored solution ahead of any development.

MEET THE TEAM – AT A GLANCE

Ray Macphee: Managing director

Ray Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay
Ray Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay

Ray is a former Royal Navy Clearance Diver (RNCD) of 11 years, where he was trained to specialise in underwater search techniques in all conditions.

Since leaving the Royal Navy in 2009, Ray has worked in the private sector, overseeing multimillion-pound projects for commercial diving companies in the Highlands and further afield; he has channelled his industry knowledge and experience into setting up CFMS, to provide a leading service offering.

Prior to setting up CFMS, Ray owned and operated its parent company – Raymar Marine – since 2016. The company was set up to operate a marine fishing business which developed into a guard vessel service provider for Beatrice and Kincardine offshore wind farms and more recently a marine vessel provider.

Jason Noble: HSEQ and operations manager

Jason Noble. Picture: Callum Mackay
Jason Noble. Picture: Callum Mackay

Jason served as a RNCD supervisor for nine years; serving on three minehunters, conducting live UXO clearances in the Baltic, the Gulf and UK.

Jason was also part of an experimental diving team in Canada and part of a submarine repair team conducting emergency underwater engineering tasks on submarines worldwide.

Since leaving the Royal Navy 14 years ago, Jason has built up his qualifications and experience as a health and safety professional, as well as diving supervisor, project manager, UXO supervisor and diving client representative.

Working on many long-term joint venture projects in Europe, Jason has widened his experience professionally and personally by working with other nations. Experiencing cultural differences and attitudes towards health and safety, next generation environmental considerations and working methods have moulded Jason into a forward-thinking professional.

Eddie Davies: Operations director

Eddie Davies. Picture: Callum Mackay
Eddie Davies. Picture: Callum Mackay

As an ex-Royal Marine, Eddie’s ex-military background, combined with his business acumen, has allowed him to successfully manage multimillion-pound projects for several Highland diving and rope access companies over the last 25-plus years.

Most recently, prior to joining as a director with CFMS, Eddie managed logistics, topside inspection and construction in the diving division at a large energy service group; projects typically averaged at more than £1 million each and ran concurrently.

Mhari Macphee: Finance and marketing director

Mhari Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay
Mhari Macphee. Picture: Callum Mackay

As a co-owner and director in CFMS, Mhari is a chartered accountant, a chartered tax adviser and studied interpreting and translating at Heriot-Watt University, spending time living in Paris and Mexico City while at university. She also has a certificate in sustainable aquaculture from St Andrews University.

Having recently left her role as a senior tax manager at a top accountancy firm, Mhari has vast experience in providing complex tax advice and overseeing the accounts and tax affairs of high net worth individuals across the UK ensuring their projects are delivered on time and under budget.

Mhari utilises these skills to oversee the day-to-day and strategic operations of CFMS, while supporting the HSE manager to meet health and safety, and environmental responsibilities.

Mhari has also run its parent company Raymar Marine alongside Ray since 2016.

As a working mum Mhari is passionate about diversity and flexible working and is proud to support these initiatives within CFMS for employees and subcontractors.

PAST PROJECTS:

Subsea cable installation

CFMS has been part of the successful HV cable installation between Ardmore, Skye and Beacravik in Harris. They provided diving and surface support on removal of the old cable, pulling the new cable into position and installing a protection system.

The project was run during peak tourist season which proved to create logistical challenges however with the support of their client and some very helpful locals in Skye and in Harris, the project was completed successfully and on time.

Cathodic protection design and installation

CFMS undertook cathodic protection sacrificial anode design and installation at Arbroath Harbour.

The work involved designing and producing replacement anodes which will provide 10 years’ of protection to the harbour structure. The installation was carried out while the harbour remained fully operational, minimising disruption to the harbour and its users.

CONTACT INFO:

Cromarty Firth Marine Services

CFMS logo
CFMS logo

Unit 30, Evanton Industrial Estate, Evanton, IV16 9XJ

T: 01349 201123

E: info@cromartyfirthservices.com

Website: www.cromartyfirthservices.com


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