Harbour Master and Chief Executive to bow out

Following a distinguished career with Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) spanning more than 28 years, long standing Harbour Master and Chief Executive, Mark Sansom, has announced that, at the end of 2020, he will be retiring from his role

Explaining his decision Mark said: “I am hugely privileged to have been employed in this role for such a long time. During my 28 years with FHC I have been fortunate enough to be involved in many exciting projects and have worked with many incredible people. I feel the time is right though for me to make a change and adjust my work life balance. I look forward to making myself useful in other ways in the future and will leave knowing that the organisation is in good shape and well placed to exploit upcoming opportunities.”

Mark joined FHC as deputy harbour master in 1992 and was appointed harbour master and chief executive in 2000. Under his extensive tenure, Falmouth Harbour has significantly developed its facilities and hosted some major events including 3 tall ships races.  He used his mooring design expertise gained in his time with the Ministry of Defence to provide innovative solutions to various problems.  Among the most complex of these was designing and creating 300m of temporary pontoon berthing for the 1998 Tall Ships Race and then re-using the pontoons and moorings to form an improved visitors yacht haven.  He also designed moorings for oil pollution booms including a straight line deflector boom of over 700m in length which was successfully deployed across the Percuil.  Mark has also been instrumental in helping to create important partnerships such as those which delivered the Port Masterplan and the FaBTest wave energy site.

In appreciation of the significant contribution that Mark has played in the prosperity of FHC, the harbour and the wider local community, FHC chair, Carrie Gilmore, said: “All of us on the Board of Commissioners recognise Mark’s achievements in developing and improving the organisation over the last 20 years. With Mark at the helm FHC has grown as a business, despite occasionally being faced with some extremely challenging circumstances, and increased our value and contribution to our local community.  He has also led our response to some extremely challenging incidents and situations over the years and has become nationally recognised for his expertise in handling ship casualty situations.  We are proud of the substantial impact he has made.”

As a result of Mark’s impending departure, the Board of FHC has decided to review its leadership structure. The current combined role of Chief Executive and Harbour Master will be reassigned into two new roles, so that going forward there will be both a Harbour Master, and a Chief Executive.

“FHC has evolved significantly over the last 20 years,” explains Carrie. “It is now more common in medium sized ports, such as FHC, for the business management responsibilities to be separate from marine safety responsibilities. Moving forward we believe it is important that the Harbour Master is able to focus on marine safety, and that the overall leadership and management of our diverse and growing business is in the hands of a dedicated Chief Executive.”

“As an organisation, we have a proud history of developing our marine safety staff and I am delighted to be able to announce that Duncan Paul, who joined FHC in 2010, will be taking over the role of Harbour Master later this year. Duncan, who is currently Deputy Harbour Master, has substantial experience in the management of marine safety, and previously covered the Harbour Master role for a number of months in 2016, whilst Mark was assigned full time to project delivery. It is a testament to Mark’s commitment to FHC, that he has given us such extended notice of his decision, and he is working with us to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.”

Recruitment of the new Chief Executive will commence in the coming months. FHC will also be strengthening its marine safety team by recruiting a new Assistant Harbour Master. This post will be advertised very shortly.


Further information

For more information, please contact: Florence Bate, Wild West Communications on behalf of Falmouth Harbour Commissioners on 01872 243560 / florence.bate@wildwestcomms.co.uk

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) background information

  • FHC is managed by a Board of Trustees set up as a trust port by statute to administer the harbour in the best interests of its stakeholders
  • FHC operates to the standards in the Modernising Trust Ports written by the Ports Division for the Department for Transport as part of the process of Modernising of Trust Ports and last updated in 2018
  • FHC provide pilotage services for the anchorages in Falmouth Bay and Carrick Roads, Falmouth Docks, Truro, Penryn and St Mawes as well as the Helford river, the Quarries on the East side of the Lizard Peninsula and the Falmouth, Gerrans and Veryan Bays
  • Depending on length, destination and cargo, a Falmouth Pilot (a member of the Falmouth Pilots LLP) is required to assist ships entering FHC’s waters