My job entails carrying out Engine room watch keeping duties, maintenance and operation of auxiliary machineries in the Engine room. I work on board a Multipurpose Supply vessel which serves as an accommodation, tug, support and supply vessel for offshore facilities such as rigs, platforms and FPSOs. At sea, my vessel operates on a 12-hours watch keeping system (manned) although its 6hours on duty and 6 hours off duty. My first watch starts from 0600 until 1200 and from 1800 until midnight. A typical day for me at sea as a third Engineer begins by: Taking rounds/checks on deck and in the Engine room before taking over. I ensure that all running machineries are checked and monitored at intervals within my 6 hours watch and parameters of machineries are recorded ensuring that all machineries are running in good conditions. I ensure that all F.O day tanks and main air bottles are drained. If day tank level is getting low, the F.O purifier is started to fill up the F.O day tanks. Based on the PMS, If any machinery such as the Auxiliary engine is due for servicing ( Renewing Lub oil, changing L.O & F.O filters etc,), I ensure that the job is done before the close of my watch. I ensure to complete any outstanding jobs handed over to me by the out gone Engineer which could be mounting back a pump, fixing back a welded pipe etc. During my watch, If I am in doubt of anything or there is an emergency I can not handle myself, I call on the Chief Engineer. I ensure to update all paperwork that have been assigned to me. Assist the chief Engineer during operations such as bunkering. At the end of my watch, I ensure all jobs done are logged in the E/R log.
My favourite part of the job is troubleshooting and developing problem solving skills as well as conquering self -doubt in a male dominated industry like ours, there will always be high expectations when a female seafarer joins a ship. When I first joined a ship as a third Engineer ( my very first contract as a Engineering officer of the watch on a Multi purpose Supply vessel- Engine power rating was 7500bhp) I had low self esteem because I doubted my self a lot and I was scared to be tagged lazy. Being the only woman amongst men made me feel like I was being watched at all times and monitored when carrying out task so as to find errors. Maybe I was overthinking but I knew deep down that I had to work extra hard to prove my worth and also to show that I’m capable and competent. So in order to conquer self doubt I had to work hard and take out fear by confidently doing my job and with the help of my engine crew members(team) who were very supportive, I also received commendations, advises and words of encouragement from crew members / seafarers. So whenever a job needs to be done, I do it confidently knowing that I’m capable of doing the job and doing it well.
Aside from conquering self-doubt, there have been other challenges I have faced as a woman in this industry, whilst trying to get a job with a marine company, I was told that they do not employ female seafarers and there was nothing I could do, I just had to apply to other companies but some still do not respond/reply. The issue of gender discrimination in the marine industry is very common in Nigeria..
A change I would like to see in the industry would be stopping the discrimination and stereotyping of female seafarers. Marine companies should give female seafarers more chances/opportunities.
As a female seafarer, you’ll definitely face challenges in the marine industry, either while seeking for a job or even after getting a job, whenever you are faced with these challenges , don’t just quit, keep pushing and you’ll overcome them.
Weleayaziba Iruaro, Nigeria – Third Engineer