A Nurse Who Embraces A Career at Sea


  • With the Day of the Seafarer approaching we headed to Panama to hear the extraordinary life of Captain Beate Stelzer.
  • Women working at sea are a rarity. A woman captaining a merchant ship rarer still.
  • Berlin native Captain Beate Stelzer’s life story is extraordinary.
  • Deciding back in 2007 at the age of 40 to quit her job as an intensive care nurse for a maritime career switch, Stelzer signed on with Hamburg Sud.
  • Eleven years later with the German carrier now bought by Maersk, she became a captain.

A recently published report in the Splash 247 reveals a courageous story of a nurse becoming the captain of a ship.

Video interview

So with the Day of the Seafarer fast approaching Maritime CEO leapt at the opportunity for a video interview onboard the 4,258 teu Luna Maersk as the ship prepared for a rainy transit from the Pacific side.

“I always wanted to do another completely different job in my life. There are so many interesting jobs you can do; why only do one?” she said of her mid-life career switch. To get more women into shipping Stelzer said it’s important that prejudices are ditched about women in technical jobs. It’s important too, she said, to make the job more family friendly, for example with shorter contracts.

Challenges at sea during coronavirus

The majority of the episode was spent discussing the challenges of life at sea during the coronavirus. “Uncertainty about getting
relieved or not makes some of the crew depressed or aggressive,” Stelzer admitted, saying that it was vital that as captain she had more communication with her crew during these difficult times.

A sort of bored feeling

With no shore leave whatsoever for several months, Stelzer related how she saw the same people day in, day out – “the same faces, the same noises” – something she admitted has
become boring.

The former nurse also addressed the medical challenge for seafarers during the coronavirus crisis with crew unable to go ashore for aid.
“Humanity is getting lost by this,” she warned.

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Source: Splash 247


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