It’s A Sea Change, So To Speak.

By Carl Nolte
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At the end of last year, Marina Secchitano of San Francisco defeated two men to be elected national president of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, which represents ferry and tugboat workers. She is the first female head of a seagoing labor organization.

San Francisco Chronicle

It wasn’t long ago that the maritime industry was a man’s world.

It was part of the culture in books, movies, songs and legends. The sea captains, sailors, explorers, naval heroes, even the pirates were all men. It was ingrained in the language: seaman, helmsman, fisherman, longshoreman, yachtsman.

The world has changed in recent years. Now there are female admirals, ship captains, ferry skippers, deckhands, marine engineers, maritime executives.

At the end of last year, Marina Secchitano of San Francisco defeated two men to be elected national president of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, which represents ferry and tugboat workers. She is the first female head of a seagoing labor organization.

It’s a sea change, so to speak.

The future of women in the maritime industry is with the young people starting out in sea careers.

One of them is Bonnie Muchnick, a 24-year-old Oakland woman in her first year as a seagoing officer. She is third mate on a tanker, carrying cargoes of gasoline and diesel fuel on the Mississippi River, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida ports.

Muchnick represents new blood in an old-line company. She sails aboard the Legacy, a combination tug and barge that is 748 feet long, has an engine that develops over 16,000 horsepower and can carry 327,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel. When she is on the bridge, she runs a ship and cargo worth millions of dollars.

The Legacy is owned by Crowley Maritime, a family-owned firm that got its start on San Francisco Bay with a single rowboat back in 1892. Now it is a $2.2 billion company with worldwide operations and an eye on the future.

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