In this first edition of The Sure Thing, we spoke to First Officer Marwa Elselehdar who became Egypt’s first female shipmaster in 2015. To create leading product technologies that keep marine workers safe, we partner and consult with expert professionals throughout the supply chain. Aramid based mooring lines made from Twaron® and Technora® need to perform to the highest levels in the world’s hottest environments. So, we invited First Officer Elselehdar to Dubai to share some of her technical insights.
Hi Marwa, and welcome to the first edition of The Sure Thing. We’d love you to tell us what we need to know about mooring lines on large commercial vessels in hot weather.
Thank you inviting me. Okay so first of all, mooring lines are crucial to one of the most dangerous manoeuvres we ever perform at sea – entering and leaving port. So before and after docking, the duty officer must check all the mooring lines are sound and proper.
What specifically must the duty officer check for?
Most importantly they must check and validate the maximum breaking loads. Mooring lines used on a vessel should never exceed 55% of the maximum breaking load of that line type. Unfortunately, most accidents happen because of using bad or weak mooring lines. It’s one of the reasons why you should never mix mooring lines at different stages of their lifecycle.
Who picks the mooring lines for a ship?
The captain. For sure the ship owner or the shipping company have a say; but the captain knows more about the important practical aspects on board the vessel. They know the ship’s quirks, and therefore which mooring lines are best suited and safest.
How long should mooring lines last?
Well, high quality mooring lines can last for a long time. Everything we use on board ship has a certification to ensure it’s safe for the ship’s crew and the harbour crew too. So, we use that as a guideline. We also get a sense of likely longevity from the material involved. If it’s good material, the line can last for a long time. If it’s bad material, it will be in a poor condition pretty quickly. And sometimes, the poorer quality lines will even not last for as long as the certificate states. So, we should always manually inspect it ourselves to see if it’s safe or if needs changing.
When mooring lines needed changing, what’s the process? Where do they go? Are they recycled?
Once it’s identified, a bad mooring line should be removed immediately and should not be used again. Some companies just throw them away overboard and others recycle them. I prefer the latter, and I think more companies are also going for being more environmentally friendly too. Listen, we know that some ships often used to discard objects at sea even if it not allowed under the laws and regulations. But I think that is changing and becoming the exception, not the rule.
To develop leading product technologies like Twaron® and Technora® that are strong and sustainable, our engineers and scientists have to be pioneers. Marwa is also a pioneer in the maritime industry.
You were Egypt’s first female shipmaster. Do you feel like a role model for women?
Yes! I was the first Egyptian woman who entered this industry in Egypt. And naturally I have helped opened up this profession for other girls to enter and that made me so happy because I left my signature in this industry.
What motivated you to become a sailor? Especially as being a first officer or captain is often perceived as a man’s job.
In short – my brother, my family and my love of the sea. My brother is already captain. So, we actually work in the same industry together. We studied together at college and he was very supportive. My family too. They pushed me to do the thing that I really love. And after my family, my colleagues are also very supportive.
As for women in shipping, we can do anything we want to do. Anything men can do. We’re perfectly capable of performing to the highest level. Even change mooring lines. We are part of the team like anyone, and always get involved in every detail. For my job, the practical side is perhaps more important that theoretical side. You cannot learn how to command from just books.
Why is performance important in the maritime industry?
Actually as, a leader I believe performance and character are the two most important things on a ship. They are also the main factors that a senior officer can control and influence. Performance is something is measurable and for sure an absolute necessity. But also, you should also be a friendly, kind and a hard worker for your team. If your performance and attitude are good, that helps makes you a good team mate and even leadership material.
Collaboration also seems to be a strong theme in the daily life on board a ship…
Collaboration is very important in my job because everything we do on board we do as a team. Tasks, drills, technical processes. I cannot do those by myself and nor can anyone else. So, this collaboration is very important as is the communication of the rules of collaboration to my team.
Finally, at Teijin Aramid our aim is to contribute positively to the society of the future. What does the society of the future look like to you as a maritime professional?
My hope is that in the future there is more widespread acceptance of women in the maritime industry. Females currently make up just 2% of all employees in this sector – it should be 50:50. So, we need more chances to show the world that we can do the job. We need more companies to give more chance to girls to work or get trained on board ships.
When I was cadet applying for jobs; I always faced the problem that companies simply did not accept females on board. There is more acceptance in Europe and the US, but I wanted to make it happen first at home. I have taken my steps but there is a new generation of women wanting to contribute to the industry, so I hope we can step towards the future by giving them the opportunities today.
Thank you Marwa. We look forward to following you on your journey.
- Find out more on https://womenoffshore.org/
- Follow Marwa on her LinkedIn.
- Follow Marwa on her journey on Instagram.