Elin Askvik

Master (Norway)

“I’ve been working as a seafarer for more than 20 years, of which nine years have been with Swire Seabed. I have seen so many places, done so many interesting projects with so many incredible people that I can’t cover that in one line. The ground-breaking work that we have done and continue to do makes me proud.”

How do you feel as SPO’s only female Master? What are some challenges?

frontpic.jpgBeing the only female captain in SPO is something that I really do not think about. To me, a sailor is sailor, and a Captain is Captain. It is a definition of what you are and what you do and has nothing to do with the gender.  I’ve never tried anything else than being a female in this industry – for over 20 years, I can never know how it is to be a male sailor or Captain.

I do admit that there were challenges that I may have been faced with, that would not be a problem if I were a male. On the other hand, there are challenges for males too, and we, females at sea, must not blame all bumps on the road on gender. One has to learn to shake it off and consider other possibilities when things do not go smoothly. Maybe the idea was not good enough or maybe there was not enough effort. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with being a female and it is just about having a tough job.

Having said all that, we have to be honest about the fact that gender equality is still not the norm in the shipping industry. I naturally acknowledge that not everyone is as lucky as me, to work for a company that chose experience over gender back in the days when I was promoted.

Can you share some of your best memories as a seafarer?

Elin-1.pngI’ve been working as a seafarer for more than 20 years, of which nine years have been with Swire Seabed. I have seen so many places, done so many interesting projects with so many incredible people that I can’t cover that in one line. The ground-breaking work that we have done and continue to do makes me proud. The world that we see both above and below the waterline is intriguing to me. I’m constantly impressed by what we can do at those extreme depths. What is down there amazes me – nature keeps leaving me speechless and the feeling that the vast ocean gives me continue to astound me.

Still, all the things we still haven’t seen and still don’t understand makes me feel it’s just the beginning. Some of my best moments have included exploring little known areas, wrecks and a few turtles. And the people that I’ve worked with – it wouldn’t be many moments to remember without the great shipmates. It’s always being part of a great crew that makes the difference!

What advice would you give women who are considering careers at sea?

Everyone going to sea must consider if working at sea is really what they want and if it is – Go for it – of course! Regardless the gender, one should always do one’s best. Always. Not almost your best, but your best. Respect your colleagues, the ocean and most importantly, respect yourself.

What do you find most meaningful about your work?

1.jpgSome of the projects we have been doing include searching, finding and recovering of items from various sites. All interesting, but those involving locating missing vessels – where we took part in work that matters to those who have lost their loved ones at sea have been the most rewarding assignments so far. Being sailors, we can all relate to that. We cannot bring back their loved ones but sometimes we can perhaps contribute to bring closure through our work and that to me is a real honour.