Currently a deck cadet at California Maritime Academy, Amelia Herrman is eager to set sail into the workforce to be a maritime pilot.

An adventurous career at sea started in high school when Amelia Herrman’s mother obtained a job at the Port of Tacoma and ​met a ​Puget Sound Pilot. A navigational expert, the pilot recommended that her daughter look into the educational opportunity ​at California Maritime Academy. Amelia was intrigued, so to test the waters, quite literally, she landed an internship at Foss Maritime working on tugboats.

At Foss, Amelia was mentored by two men, Michael Stone and Joe LeCato, and looks back on her experience working alongside them as an eye-opening exploration into the maritime industry, providing a foundation of knowledge. “They were very excited for my future at sea. For a teenager who had never gone to sea or set foot on a ship, they were incredibly supportive, and encouraging.” Amelia may have stepped onto Foss’ campus without knowing the difference between port and starboard, yet before long, she used maritime terminology with ease. Amelia left Foss at the end of her summer internship eager to submit an application to California Maritime Academy to study marine transportation.

Each cadet at Cal Maritime must spend a year’s time at sea on the Training Ship Golden Bear and commercial vessels, before testing for an unlimited tonnage 3rd mate or engineer’s license. To fulfill her commercial cruise requirement, Amelia joined the crew of a 183-meter (46,094 dead weight tonnage) oil product tanker, called the Mississippi Voyager.

On board the Mississippi Voyager in San Francisco Bay

When Amelia first saw the vessel from the bottom of its gangway, she was intimidated, yet intrigued. “Completing a commercial cruise was definitely a pinnacle moment for me, personally and professionally. Prior to my first day on board, I had never stepped foot on a tanker before. I clearly remember being amazed by the size of the ship, and shocked by the amount of deck piping, which seems silly now!”

Amelia’s role model is Captain Amanda Wallace, the master of the Mississippi Voyager. “Captain Wallace makes the dream real to me because I see that she has achieved master and is an amazing role model to women in this industry. She is one of the hardest workers I know, and I am starting to understand the level of dedication and determination it took for her to make her the captain she is today!” Women only make up 2% of the  maritime industry, yet Amelia is ready to take on the challenges of working on the water, long-term. With support from Captain Wallace, Amelia’s confidence clearly soars.

Left to Right – Deck Cadet Amelia Herrman, Captain Amanda Wallace, & Second Officer Mollie McQuiston

Amelia is one determined cadet, taking her own initiative to intern with the Puget Sounds Pilots in Washington State this year. Riding pilot boats and boarding tankers in Puget Sound shaped just how to approach her career with the time, dedication, and fortitude she will need to achieve such a prestigious position. Amelia expresses gratitude for the experience after observing the different inner-workings to operate a pilot organization. The most exciting part was stepping on board pilot boats to then navigate ships inbound Puget Sound. “I made the jump from the pilot boat to the ship, climbed the Jacobs ladder and watched seasoned pilots make calculated decisions to bring the ships in safely.  Every day with the pilots was accompanied with a new learning experience. Participating in piloting internships enabled me to meet those who achieved the dream of becoming a pilot and has ignited a fire in me to seriously consider pursuing this career for myself.”

California Maritime Cadet Amelia Herrman with Captain Dan Brouillard, a Puget Sound Pilot

Absorbing everything she could, Amelia’s greatest challenge during her internship was learning everything before running out of daylight. It is obvious that Amelia has a profound respect for those who came before her and looked to these experienced pilots to share their lessons learned. One of the most influential stories involved a fire onboard. “Thankfully, no one was injured, and the vessel was recovered successfully. That story highlighted the importance of being able to think on the fly and make the safest decisions possible when needed. This is an important skill that can be utilized within the industry, and in life as well. This story highlights the epitome of working as a professional, responsible, and talented mariner.”

Today, Amelia looks forward to her senior year at California Maritime and graduating in April of 2019 before sailing as a 3rd mate on merchant vessels. She expresses this with pride, “Going to sea is unique, and our industry is something special to be proud of. Sailing is both an art and a science, and I can’t wait to master both aspects as a mariner in my future.”

Over five years ago, one comment from a Puget Sound Pilot changed the trajectory of Amelia’s education and career. Now with her sights set on achieving the role of pilot in her home state of Washington, Amelia is ready to unlock the unlimited career potential that awaits her in the commercial maritime industry.

Women Offshore

About The Author: Women Offshore

The Women Offshore Foundation is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to propel women into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. Contact Women Offshore today: hello@womenoffshore.org.

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