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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

‘Closing the Gap’ - Operational need v Technical reality Event

18:00 - 19:00
4 December 2013
The Turner Sims University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ Please contact us if you have mobility difficulties or require special arrangements. Turner Sims Concert Hall (Building 52) is situated on the Highfield Campus. Pay and display parking is available before 5pm. After 5pm all university car parks are free.

For more information regarding this event, please telephone Mrs Aparna Subaiah-Varma, Administrator, Fluid Structure Interactions Group on 02380597745 or email .

Event details

The University of Southampton and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution hold an Annual Lecture at the University campus as part of our Advanced Technology Partnership. The Partnership involves active research projects in engineering and sponsored students in Ship Science and most recently in allied health sciences and management. A key element of the research is dissemination of the work through theses, papers and articles. This relationship is most valuable to the university and the Annual Lecture has become one of the most prestigious in the University Calendar.

The Shannon passing through the Sound of Harris
The Shannon - Image Credit RNLI

Each year we invite an eminent speaker to deliver the lecture based upon their own work that has focused on safety and engineering around the marine and/or maritime sectors. We are pleased to welcome Mr Michael Vlasto to the University as our speaker this year.

Michael will talk about the challenges faced in meeting the RNLI's operational needs and about the processes that have been followed both in the past and present to ensure safe and operational equipment for the crew. He will talk about some of the incidents and developments over the last 40 years that have influenced lifeboat design and the changes that have occurred in working relationships to achieve this.

The Lecture by custom will be delivered in the University at 6.00pm. Refreshments will be served in the foyer at 5.30pm. All are welcome.

For more information regarding the RNLI Advanced Technology Partnership please contact Dr James I. R. Blake.

Speaker Information

Mr Michael Vlasto OBE FRIN FNI

Michael is a Master Mariner who joined the RNLI as a Lifeboat Inspector in 1975 after service in the Merchant Navy as a Deck Officer. He served initially as Divisional Inspector of Lifeboats in Scotland and then Wales between 1976 and 1990. In 1990 he became Staff Officer Operations (Training), with responsibility for training lifeboat crews and station personnel.

In 1994 he was appointed Sea Safety Liaison Officer, where he established and managed the Sea Safety Initiative - the RNLI's move into prevention. He was then promoted to Chief of Operations and had operational responsibility for the delivery of the Concept of Operations namely the lifeboat and lifeguard services and developing coastal safety services. This involved over 500 full time staff, 5,000 volunteers supporting 236 lifeboat stations, over 180 lifeguard units throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland and the Flood Rescue Teams. He retired from the RNLI in July 2013 after 38 years of service to maritime Search and Rescue.

He is a Younger Brother of Trinity House, a Livery member of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners and the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, a Freeman of the City of London and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Nautical Institute.

In 2005 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to maritime search and rescue.

In 2007 he became Chairman of the International Maritime Rescue Federation, the NGO with consultative status at the IMO, which represents maritime SAR organisations around the world.

In 2008 he was made a Life Governor of Irish Water Safety for services to water safety in Ireland.

In 2013, on his retirement from the RNLI, he was awarded an Honorary Silver Medal for his leadership and commitment to the development of the organisation over the years. He was also awarded the MCA Chief Coastguard's Commendation for Meritorious service to Search and Rescue.

Michael is married with a son and daughter and lives in Hampshire.

The RNLI Lecture Poster 2013

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