Recruitment and Education

Life as a Ship's Officer

Life as a Ship's Officer
Captain Sinéad Reen is the first female elected as the President of the Irish Institute of Master Mariners and a maritime professional of over 20 years’ experience on shore and at sea. Captain Reen is now at the forefront of training the new generation of seafarers in Ireland.
How many years have you worked in the industry and what is your current role?

Sinéad has worked in the maritime industry for over twenty years and is a maritime mould breaker in her own right. She is the first female elected to become President of the Irish Institute of Master Mariners, the professional body for Shipmasters in 2015 and was the first female cadet to train as a Master Mariner in the National Maritime College of Ireland.

What was your initial exposure to the industry?

"It was the Asgard that pointed me to a career at sea." Having completed her leaving certificate in Co. Clare, her two tours as a watch-leader  on the sail training vessel Asgard 2 were enough to make her mind up to follow a career at sea. The Asgard 2 was the national sail training vessel which offered many a young person their first exposure to extended life at sea and the type of life you could have aboard ship. Sinéad was the first Irish woman to gain a Certificate of Competency as a Master Mariner and has served at sea aboard supertankers and cruise ships as a Deck Officer. 

What helped you decide that you wanted to start a career in Maritime?

Sinéad chose a career at sea and joined the Merchant Navy at a time when the Irish naval service was not admitting females. That has now changed as the Irish Naval Service regularly recruits females for the force. She attended the National Maritime College of Ireland in Cork and undertook the deck officer undergraduate degree course.

What was the transition from the bridge of a Ship to a shore based job like? 

Sinéad began as Deck Officer with ESSO on a products carrier in European waters. Since then, she has worked on VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers) for the Norwegian company Bergesen. This took her all over Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. After building up her experience and knowledge aboard ship over a number of years, Sinéad decided to come ashore and was offered a job working as a port operations officer with the Port Of Cork.  This was a really enjoyable transition from the bridge of a ship to shore as Sinéad was able to use all her sea going experience in her day to day role, liaising with Captains of vessels calling to port, knowing what information they would need prior to the vessel docking and discharging at port, interacting with harbour pilots and port operations to ensure the smooth organisation of getting cargoes and passengers off and on ships in the Port of Cork. Sinéad then had the opportunity of lecturing at her Alma Mater, the National Maritime College of Ireland initially on a part time basis. Sinéad was offered a full time position as a lecturer on the Navigational Officer training curriculum. One could say that Sinéad’s maritime journey has come full circle from when she started off as a Cadet.

What do you think are the main characteristics or skills are for a person to succeed in the maritime industry?

A person who is open-minded, adaptable to different situations, who is able to think on their feet, change to  fit into different cultural and work environments. A person who can make decisions quickly and can mix with a wide range of personalities will do well working in the Maritime industry. Sinéad comments that one of the most attractive features of working in the Maritime industry is that there is great job satisfaction, an individual can earn a lot of responsibility at a young age, and there is the inherent opportunity to travel extensively and experience different cultures.