Women can solve shipping skills crisis, says Stena Line

Birkenhead to Belfast ferry operator Stena Line has recruited its first-ever female captain and says women hold the key to solving the shipping sector’s chronic skills shortage. Tony McDonough reports

Lynette Bryson
Lynette Bryson, captain of Stena Adventurer in the Irish Sea


Birkenhead to Belfast ferry operator Stena Line says the shipping sector is facing a skills crisis but adds the recruitment of more women is the solution to the problem.

Stena, a Swedish-based company that runs up to two sailings a day between the Twelve Quays terminal in Birkenhead and Belfast, has just appointed its first-ever female captain. Lynette Bryson is the new master on Stena Adventurer in the Irish Sea.

The company says that a combination of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic has created a double whammy that has led to shortage of people with the right skills to fill vacancies across the shipping sector.

It is putting forward the view that if the shipping industry is going to solve its jobs’ crisis, there is a simple solution – it urgently needs to encourage more women to work in careers at sea. Just 2% of the world’s 1.2m seafarers are women but Stena has set itself a target of 30% of its managers being women by the end of 2022.

Margaret Jensen Dickson, group head of people at Stena Line, said: “The shipping sector is in a jobs’ crisis and there is a shortage of people in every part of the industry. No matter whether the problem is caused by Brexit, or the Pandemic, there is a simple solution and that is to encourage more women to work in shipping.

“The people shortage is one of the biggest crises Stena Line has ever faced and we are throwing the kitchen sink at it. Onboard roles can no longer be seen as a male domain. With the appointment of Lynette Bryson as our first female captain we have shown that woman can and will succeed at sea and Stena Line will be here to support them.”

Stena Adventurer is one of the largest vessel in Stena Line’s fleet. It serves the key Holyhead to Dublin route, where it operates four services a day. As night master it means Lynette Bryson and her team of female officers, are in charge of two of those trips.

Since joining Stena Line in 2017 she has worked through the ranks, gaining four promotions as a result of her professional, dedicated and diligent approach to her key leadership on the vessel.

She added: “I am incredibly proud to be sailing as Master on Stena Adventurer, and as the first female Master at the company; this could not have been done without the support of my colleagues at Stena Line.

“As a young woman I always dreamt of a career at sea and never thought I could ever achieve being a Captain. I hope my position can encourage more young women to follow my path and have a successful maritime career.”

In 2019, Stena Line and Peel Ports, owner of the Twelve Quays terminal at Birkenhead, jointly invested £17m in an upgrade of the facility to prepare it for the introduction of the new Stena Edda and Stena Embla vessels.

During the pandemic Stena Line has also played a crucial role in supporting new maritime recruits from other parts of shipping, particularly the cruise sector. With cruise lines no longer operating deck cadets and trainees were able to work for Stena Line.

Stena Line currently has a number of roles that it is looking to fill. More information on a career at Stena Line and all the current vacancies can be found by clicking here.

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