IT’S THE first in the UK and could help to save lives at sea.

Two marine training organisations have come together to launch the first Solent Marine Safety Academy.

Based at Hythe Marine Park, the academy is a joint project between two specialist companies, Fire-Aid Academy and MRS Training and Rescue.

The training ground is designed on a floating pontoon with a student accommodation block, a firefighting area and specialist enclosed spaces to be as real to life on a ship as possible for those learning their hand at safety on the water.

Officially opened by head of marine accident investigation branch Steve Clinch, he praised the ‘fantastic’ facilities.

He said: “I’m honoured to be able to unveil this fantastic training facility that will hopefully help to save lives.

“To be able to put these two organisations together to help provide something like this is a brilliant achievement.

“We need to lower the totally unacceptable figure of people injured at sea, with 184 deaths in the last 20 years.

“I believe that this is the first training academy of this sort in the UK.”

The training of sailors on the vessel will incorporate safety procedures, what to know in order to abandon ship, and how to fight different types of fires onboard.

The name of the ship was also unveiled by MP for New Forest East, Dr Julian Lewis.

Called TV Northway Star, the MP said he never thought facilities like the academy would ever be available in his constituency.

He said: “What a wonderful opportunity to be able to help unveil this magnificent academy that will give students and sailors the best possible education into safety at sea.

“I never dreamt that facilities such as this would be in New Forest East, it’s a moment of pride for us.”

The academy is already open for bookings, offering a range of courses that covers first aid, fire prevention and personal safety for passenger ships and other vessels.