EIGHT Papua New Guinean women recently graduated from the Women in Maritime program, which is a partnership between Pacific Towing, the Australian government, Consort Express Lines and Swire Shipping.

The eight women graduated as Officers of the Watch, and they were all cadets with PacTow. They represent the second and third intakes of the Women in Maritime program, which is run with Australia Awards PNG, a scholarship program.

The graduation ceremony took place on 4 December aboard Steamships’ cruiser Moresby Chief on Fairfax Harbour.

In addition to the graduates, the ceremony was attended by several guests including the Australian High Commission’s Minister Counsellor Penny Morton, Australia Awards PNG program director Rebecca Gitsham, Swire Shipping general manager – Pacific Randy Selvaratnam and Steamships corporate affairs general manager Vele Rupa.

In congratulating the new graduates, Mr Rupa stressed the significance and value of the partnership between Steamships, the Australia Awards PNG programme, and Swire Shipping.

“Together we are not only fast tracking the careers of young female seafarers, but we are also strengthening PNG’s maritime sector which plays a crucial role in driving PNG’s development,” he said.

“Investing in the Women in Maritime programme is an investment Steamships is delighted to have committed to.”

In 2021, the Women in Maritime program saw its pioneering 10 female cadets graduate as Officers of the Watch. These women are all currently employed with PNG shipping companies.

Four of the graduates. Image: PacTow

The eight latest graduates will see the program having successfully trained 18 female cadets as Officers of the Watch, encouraging more females to pursue a career within the maritime industry.

PacTow General Manager Neil Papenfus said the Women in Maritime program is “a pioneering initiative that is helping train PNG’s next generation of seafaring professionals”.

“The new Officers of the Watch will help alleviate the problem of workforce shortages in PNG’s maritime sector, and that their skills and knowledge will benefit PNG for decades to come,” Mr Papenfus said.

Scholarship holders in the Women in Maritime program receive both classroom and practical training. The practical training comprises an onshore component, as well as a year of critical sea time.

The women spend their sea time on vessels operated by PacTow, Consort Express Lines and Swire Shipping.

During their cadetships, the recent graduates visited ports in Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand on Swire ships.

To date, 34 women have been awarded a scholarship as either a Deck or Engine cadet.

A further six women will commence the program in 2024.