Against The Tide

Agnes Olsson, Sweden

October 9, 2020

I have been at sea for almost 10 years, starting as a deckhand in 2011, working my way up to Able Seaman. After graduating from Kalmar Maritime Academy in 2016, I’ve been sailing as an Officer for the past 4 years.

Currently I work as a navigation officer, which apart from being OOW and team leader for a watch team of 3, (in the cruise industry we have two officer on watch while at sea) I am in charge of the Bridge and its equipment, preparing voyages and chart work and updates.

I love that every day is a new challenge, that you never stop learning and the sea itself. But I have experienced challenges especially during my early years at sea I faced a lots of biases and even occasionally harassment. I was asked almost daily what I was doing at sea – I didn’t belong here.

I sailed at one vessel many years back, which after signing off, I almost gave up my career at sea. Without too many details; I came home and felt “If this is how it’s going to be, I’m not gonna be a part of it”. What changed my mind was the support from a small but strong group of female ABs I worked with earlier, who reminded me of how things should could be. I joined a new vessel a few weeks later and ended up working with the best team I could imagine.

I think there has been so many huge changes the past 10 years, women in the industry have become much more visible, voices are heard and concerns raised. I hope we can continue on this path, but also, I would like to see more focus on female seafarers as mothers, challenges and how they can be overcome, as that is something that is still a subject rarely spoken off.

To my sea sisters coming after us Keep going, don’t give up, and never be afraid to seek support from your sea sisters, whenever you need it, we are all here, always.

Agnes is currently a 1st Officer.

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