As a third officer, I am the safety officer on board. I am in charge of the life saving appliances; lifeboats, life jackets, life rafts and many others. Also in charge of the maintenance and monitoring of fire fighting appliances; fire extinguisher, fire hydrant, fire hoses, fire pipes and dampers. Etc. Like other officers, I am responsible for the ship’s navigation, personnel and cargo. During navigational watch, my duties include plotting fixed position on charts continuously to ensure the ship is in her correct position, monitoring radio communication, navigational warnings from Navtex, keeping proper lookout by sight and hearing using the bridge equipment. I am also responsible for bridge logs, equipment testing and reporting all weather abnormalities to the master. During port watch, I follow up personnel safety, I check to confirm that cargo loaded or discharged are done correctly.
I enjoy the fact that I get to meet people of different races, nationalities and cultures which helps me to improve in my interpersonal relationship, broaden my mind, learn how to do things differently and enhance the way I view things. I also enjoy the fact that I don’t get to experience the traffic and the hassles of having to work on land, most importantly I enjoy the fact that I am entrusted with something really important, which is the responsibility of having to handle a ship.
The challenge I faced, which is very common in the industry, started after I finished from the Academy in 2017. Then I was trying to secure a place for cadetship, but the few companies I contacted outrightly told me that they don’t employ ladies. Even as an officer, the struggle is still on because I still get questions like “what are you going to do onboard the vessel, don’t you know you are a woman?”
One thing I know about females which also reflects in me is that we love to do things well, not just to get things done but we get them done efficiently. So having a female as your crew means that you love that things are done well on board your vessel. I am advocating for practical inclusion of women in maritime, intentionally making provisions onboard vessels so as to accommodate female crews as well.
The journey is truly not an easy one, and of course nothing good comes easy however, with determination and courage you can make the difference. Always look up to those that have succeeded on this path and remind yourself that if they could do it despite the challenges you too can.