Thursday 30 September 2010

Women Captains

An interesting blog has just appeared on women captains, summarising two who have not appeared on this website. The blog's English is rather hard to read and there are inaccuracies, but it's worth looking at.

1. From 23-29 December 2007 (and maybe still, I'd love to know) the captain and all navigating officers on the container ship Horizon Navigator (28,212 grt) were women. Captain Robin Espinosa, First Mate Sam Pirtle, 2nd Assistant Julie Duchi. (See upper picture). The rest of the 25-strong crew were men.
The gender balance was an accident that surprised Espinosa. It was the first time in 10 years that she had worked in harness with other women officers, let alone women navigators. And women are only 10% of maritime workers, so the rostering fluke was remarkable.

2. And on April 16 2008 the largest livestock-transportation ship in the world was headed by a woman, Laura Pinasko (30). (See lower photo). She worked for Siba Ships on the Stella Deneb, and this was the first ship she had captained.
From Genoa, Laura had been working at sea since 1997, and qualified in 2003. Previously she had been First Lieutenant on the ship, which took livestock from Townsville, Australia to Indonesia and Malaysia. On board this trip were 20,060 head of cattle and 2,564 sheep and goats, which had been brought to the quay by 28 train convoys.
The cargo was worth 11 million US$, which certainly indicates how much her competence was trusted.

3. The blog also mentions 'the first woman merchant captain', Anna Ivanovna Shchetinina, 1908-99. (See her biography on wikipedia). She wasn't the first. Several are slated for that honour.
The most plausible one seems to be Betsy Miller, master of the brig Clitus, in the 1870s.
For a fuller summary see my article in Maritime Heritage, vol 2, no 4, Nov/Dec 1998: "Women Taking the Helm", pp.34-37.

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