Friday, 29 July 2011
Women ships' pilots
Women marine pilots are still rare, not because of lack of talent but because of traditional attitudes to women in power at sea. But in post-apartheid South Africa the first three female marine pilots are now sailing: Precious Dube (left), Bongiwe Mbambo and Pinky Zungu (right).
The information is revealed at http://www.handyshippingguide.com/shipping-news/cargo-ship-captains-amazed-by-black-women-drivers_2952. The women appear to be well-established so I'm not clear why it's news.Perhaps they have reached a new career stage.
Anyway, the three 'were among the earliest development candidates introduced by Transnet National Ports Authority in the late 1990’s. [It was part of a policy move] to encourage more black participation in the company’s operations.' It would be useful to know what enabled these three to apply and what hindered those who didn't apply.
They 'followed similar career paths, first receiving bursaries from Transnet to pursue a one-year maritime studies programme. Following the at-sea stages they took oral examinations with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). [Afterwards they] obtained Class 3 tickets to be junior deck officers responsible for auto piloting vessels and managing safety equipment. They then trained and worked as tug masters at Transnet, manoeuvring ships in and out of the port with the aid of small tugboats.
'After a one-year pilot training programme they qualified as junior pilots before progressing through the various licence grades. [They started] with smaller ships of around 16,000 gross tonnes progressing up to 35,000 tonnes in stages.'
Eventually they finished] with an open licence. This 'gave them authority to guide anything from the very smallest vessels to the biggest supertankers and container ships into port.'
Bongiwe Mbambo reported that when she drew alongside her first ship '"The captain actually took photographs and recorded a video while I was performing my job alongside him. It was very funny."'
'Her newly-qualified colleagues had similar experiences, and no few difficulties whilst undergoing the experiential training stages as cadets out at sea with shipping lines such as Safmarine and Unicorn, sailing between South Africa, Europe and the Far East.
'Pinky Zungu remembers:“Being at sea was difficult at first. I was the only cadet and the only female on a Russian cruise ship where only the captain spoke English well.”