“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
What men can do, women can do too. A field where women have been fairly unsighted until recently is Merchant Navy. Females constitute only about 2% of seafarers. However, the scene is changing. Some women seafarers have recently broken the mould and taken on roles that were previously considered male dominated.
Below is a list of some women seafarers who have made a mark for themselves.
Capt. Lynn Korwatch
Serving as Executive Director of Marine Exchange of the San Francisco Bay Region. Captain Korwatch is an inspiration for an entire generation of seafarers. In 1988, she was the first woman ever to command a United States commercial vessel.
Capt. Kate McCue
Captain McCue became the first American female to captain a mega-cruise ship in August 2015. She took the helm of Celebrity Cruises’ ship Summit. She began her career at sea as 3rd Officer working for another cruise line and gradually reached the top through hard work and determination.
Capt. Wendy Williams
Staff Captain of Anthem of the Seas, she took the path less traveled and is one of the women rising through the officer ranks at Royal Caribbean. Her responsibilities include being responsible for overall ship maintenance, security on-board and looking after the navigation officers on the bridge. She is one of the most popular women seafarer and her appointment made news all throughout the world.
Captain Sarah Breton
She became the first female captain in P&O Cruises’ 173-year history and the only woman ever to hold that exalted position on any UK cruise ship. She started her career at sea when she was 16 with a four-year cadetship.
Capt. Inger Klein Olsen
In 2010, 43 year old Inger Klein Olsen created history when she assumed command of Queen Victoria ship. This was the first time in its 170 years history that a woman was placed at the helm of command. She started her Merchant Navy dream at 16 as stewardess on cargo ships.
Captain Lis Lauritzen
Captain Lauritzen masters the Vision of the Seas. She got the inspiration to be a sailor from her father who was a sailor with Mærsk Line. She spent the first ten years of her career on various cargo ships and slowly rose through the ranks and got a permanent command on Vision on 10th August 2011.
Captain Margrith Ettlin
She became the first female captain to be at helm of a Silversea luxury cruise ship in its 20 years history. She is a Swiss national with extensive maritime experience in remote regions, including the Arctic and Antarctica.
Capt. Belinda Bennett
At 39 Belinda Bennett, a British citizen, became the Windstar’s first female and black captain. She handles and commands a crew of over 100 and steers a ship carrying over 140 passengers.
Capt. Radhika Menon
She became the first woman captain of the Indian merchant navy in 2013. “I knew I would become captain one day,” she says when asked about it. Capt. Menon has also won the ‘Bravery at Sea’ award.
I hope these brave female seafarers and their stories encourage other female aspirants to join Merchant Navy and make their mark!
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