I don’t think people understand how important the shipping industry is. The career opportunities that are there are extremely beneficial.
Conversation with Courtney Stanton – Engineer Cadet soon to be Engineer Officer of The Watch
Courtney was attracted to an engineering career in the Merchant Navy in part influenced by her childhood experiencing first-hand her father’s skills as a classic car engineer.
“My dad is a classic car engineer and I’ve grown-up around his business. For my school A-levels I did maths, physics and design and so by the time I was 16 I had made up my mind what I wanted to do – engineering. I applied to university and had a place at Exeter to do mechanical engineering but I realised that doing an apprenticeship instead because hands-on experience with a mix of academics is highly sought after. By chance I came across advertising from SSTG drawing my attention to merchant navy apprenticeships that I hadn’t been aware of. A three-year cadetship so paid-for on-the-job training and a life of engineering at sea. It looked perfect for me because I knew I didn’t want to do 9 to 5 normal lifestyles – and the thought of travelling the world whilst doing something in engineering appealed to me, and because technology changes so quickly in maritime as well you are constantly adapting.”
“It has really well kitted-out workshops with simulators and the lecturers are amazing too.”
“I chose Fleetwood because of the choices they had and the best reviews. It has really well kitted-out workshops with simulators and the lecturers are amazing too. Most of them have worked in maritime - and one that I had for advanced engineering science has a PhD in particle and medical physics - so they are really top-class. I have 11 people in my class, my cohort as I call them. We stick together, and help each other out to get through the modules because we all signed up for the same outcome so it is certainly a team effort. It’s going really well!”
“I’ve been on five Northstar ships and my first vessel was Grampian Dynamic. On that trip which was located west of Shetland we had quite a bit of heavy weather - so it was certainly an exciting first trip and I got on well with the crew!
“I’m going to be a qualified Engineer Officer of The Watch this summer."
“I’m going to be a qualified Engineer Officer of The Watch this summer. My Chief Engineer trusts me with the engine room and my judgement on walkarounds, and lets me start the engines, raise the thrusters and balance all of the operations myself. It was a big learning curve and one that I think is really good for cadets.
“With Northstar each ship has a Crew A and a Crew B and they alternate one month on one month off. I’ve been on one ship with the same crew twice so I have worked with seven different sets of crew. When you join a ship you get to know new people very quickly because you are living with them and working with them. It is quite a learning curve to be able to get to know someone, work with them for a week and then leave in three weeks time. So it’s challenging but it’s great to learn these people skills as well. And to work with so many different people from all around the world with varying experiences is amazing. A lot of people I’ve worked with have been on deep sea vessels as well – to hear their experiences is something that I really enjoy.
“In my case with eight months sea time it does prepare you well along with the really good workshop skills package that Fleetwood provides over the two years at college. We did things like a whole unit replacement on a four-stroke diesel engine. We don’t have the time whilst at sea pulling and overhauling main units on engines. So to be able to have these opportunities in college makes a world of difference because it’s not feasible to see everything at sea.”
Courtney has had a good positive experience working and training as a woman in a male dominated industry.
“The overwhelming majority of the people you work with will be extremely accepting and you really have to work hard to prove yourself, but it can be extremely rewarding and you will be well respected for it. And most people are glad to have the profile of engineering sea crews changing to include women and it is nice to see that more women are taking the leap to enter a male dominated industry.”
“My SSTG training officer is only an email away from any queries or anything I needed help with. She is very quick and she has been really helpful.
The career opportunities that are there are extremely beneficial.
“I don’t think people understand how important the shipping industry is. The career opportunities that are there are extremely beneficial. Out of all my friends most of them have gone to university – and they are now thousands of pounds of debt. They are probably facing the fact that it will be a long time before they get a graduate job in something that they really want to work in. So to be able to travel the world whilst getting a degree I think is an opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked because of the experience you get from doing the job and also in working with so many different people from around the world that have done so many different things is second to none.”