How ‘The Danny’ is inspiring a low carbon future

Built in 1904, The Daniel Adamson steam tug is at the heart of a project to inspire a new generation of Liverpool city region engineers to help decarbonise the maritime sector. Tony McDonough reports

Daniel Adamson
Steam tug Daniel Adamson on the Mersey. Picture by HowardLiverpool


Around 3% of all human carbon emissions come from the global maritime sector and a new generation of Merseyside engineering students are leading the way to change that.

Maritime Heritage, Maritime Futures is a project bringing together leading local maritime businesses and academics with local college and university students. It is led by the outreach team of Liverpool’s historic steam tug, The Daniel Adamson – aka The Danny.

The Daniel Adamson Preservation Society was founded in 2004 to rescue and restore the 1903, Mersey-built steam tug, the last remaining vessel of her kind in the country.

Delivered over the course of an academic year, Maritime Heritage, Maritime Futures contrasted Merseyside’s maritime heritage with its future opportunities.

It was designed to complement the classroom curriculum for B-tech and foundation engineering students, introducing them to the challenges and opportunities of the maritime sector’s transition to net Zero by 2050.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set targets of a reduction in emissions from the maritime sector by 40% by 2030, and of net zero emissions by 2050.

Using The Danny as their start point, and supported by the guidance of industry experts, the students mapped the evolution of vessel propulsion over the last 120 years – from when the coal-powered vessel first came into service – to the current day and beyond.

To support their learning, the students had access to Svitzer’s low emissions vessel Trident, and a masterclass from the team who designed the RSS Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird.

They also got first-hand insights to how the industry is working to reduce emissions from engineers at Peel Ports, the Canal and River Trust, and Safeguard Engineering.

With a busy programme of shipyard and port visits, masterclasses, vessel visits, lectures, and engine room tours throughout the year, the project concluded with a showcase and careers event at Liverpool’s Maritime Museum on June 6.

Engineering students from Hugh Baird College, Cronton and Riverside College, and Liverpool John Moores University presented pitches around decarbonisation and the future of vessel design.

Business students presented awareness raising campaign proposals to engage young people with the history, ecology, and future job opportunities of Merseyside’s maritime sector.

Expert industry panels gave the students feedback on the viability and potential for development of their ideas.

Dr Charuni Dissanayaka, STEM technical level lead at Hugh Baird College, said: “The Maritime Heritage Maritime Futures project has been tremendously enriching for our students.

The Danny’s remarkable history and innovative approach to delivering hands-on learning opportunities and high-level mentoring has introduced our students to all sorts of behind-the-scenes experiences, people, and insights they would never have had access to otherwise.

“This project has really engaged them in the challenges and opportunities around decarbonisation, and fired their enthusiasm and curiosity.”

Businesses backed the programme include Mersey Maritime, Peel Ports, Svitzer, Maersk, Cammell Laird, Safeguard Engineering, the Canal and River Trust, Liverpool John Moores University, National Museums Liverpool, Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust (MAST), and Fleetwood Nautical College.


Maritime Heritage, Maritime Futures
Students from North Liverpool Academy learning about steam propulsion on board The Danny
Maritime Heritage, Maritime Futures
Students from North Liverpool Academy learning about steam propulsion on board The Danny
Ruth Wood
Ruth Wood, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, at the Maritime Heritage, Maritime Futures event


Ruth Wood, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, added: “There is no doubt that the maritime sector is at a turning point in terms of its transition to clean energy. The sector’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050 is driving significant growth.

“Worth more than £5bn a year, Liverpool city region’s maritime economy represents an enormous opportunity to students who are exploring their career and academic options.”

READ MORE: Shipping line WEC launches new Liverpool route

READ MORE: Mersey Maritime launches 2024 industry awards

The Danny plans to run the Maritime Heritage, Maritime Futures project in academic year 2024 – 2025, and colleges and businesses who would like to be involved can contact for more details.

Cathriona, learning and participation manager for The Danny, said: “There is not the natural connection there used to be between young Merseysiders and maritime, and it is great to be part of reigniting this connection.

“Decarbonisation is vital for the future of today’s young people, and something they can be passionate about. The Danny’s team is really proud to be part of furnishing that vital link between the maritime past and future.”

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