A tanker commanded and managed by an all-women crew has set sail from the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the biggest container handling port in India.
This is the first time in the world maritime history that a ship is being sailed by all women officers, according to India’s Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
The timing of the journey coincides with International Women’s Day 2021 and marks SCI’s diamond jubilee as the country works to encourage more women to seafaring career.
The 2010-built LR1 tanker named MT Swarna Krishna is owned by the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).
Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya flagged off the vessel from JNPT Liquid Berth Jetty in a virtual ceremony held on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
“SCI has been a pioneer in employing women seafarers onboard its vessels and has implemented various initiatives including age relaxations and fee concessions to aspiring female cadets through its Maritime Training Institute to promote their integration into the maritime sector,” the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said in a statement.
The move is expected to trigger a major shift in the perception of seafaring being a male-dominated career and create a more diverse image.
Women account for only 2% of the 1.2 million seafarers sailing the world’s seas.
Challenges women face at sea range from pragmatic things like inadequate protective gear, very often too big for female bodies, to hostile environments on board ships and in the board room.
Even though there has been a lot of progress in the shipping industry over the past 30 years with women claiming senior roles on vessels and in executive boards, they still lack visibility in the sector.
However, as the seafaring profession continues to lose on its attractiveness, especially in the context of the global pandemic and the ongoing crew-change crisis, attracting talent to the industry from both genders seems more important than ever.