8 Women Seafarers Graduate

PNG’s newest Officers of the Watch at their December graduation ceremony together with the Australian High Commission’s Minister Counsellor, Penny Morton.

The Women in Maritime program, a partnership between Pacific Towing (PacTow), the Australian Government, Consort Express Lines and Swire shipping is pleased to recognise 8 young PNG women who have recently graduated as ‘Officers of the Watch’ in their pursuit of a seafaring career. The women, who were all cadets at PacTow, represent the second and third intakes of the Women in Maritime program under Australia Awards PNG.

The graduation ceremony took place on Monday 4 December aboard Steamships’ pleasure cruiser ‘Moresby Chief’ on Fairfax Harbour.  In addition to the graduates, the ceremony was attended by several VIP guests including the Australian High Commission’s Minister Counsellor, Penny Morton, Australia Awards PNG Program Director, Rebecca Gitsham, Swire Shipping General Manager – Pacific, Randy Selvaratnam, and Steamships Corporate Affairs General Manager, Vele Rupa.

In congratulating the new Officers of the Watch, Mr. Rupa stressed the significance and value of the partnership between Steamships, the Australia Awards PNG programme, and Swire Shipping.  “Together we are not only fast tracking the careers of young female seafarers, but we are also strengthening PNG’s maritime sector which plays a crucial role in driving PNG’s development.  Investing in the Women in Maritime programme is an investment Steamships is delighted to have committed to.”

The recent graduates listed below are qualified to form part of the leadership team of future vessels they work on, and as such they will oversee lower ranking deck and engine crew.  Thus, the eight new Officers of the Watch are poised to make vital contributions to further professionalising PNG’s shipping and marine services sector.  

  • Naomi Erowa
  • Karen Kariha
  • Carol Wallan
  • Make Wania
  • Melanie Yambun
  • Katrina Komboi
  • Eunice Tuwe
  • Debbie Aina

In 2021, the Women in Maritime program saw its pioneering 10 female cadets graduate as ‘Officers of the Watch’. These women are all currently employed with PNG shipping companies. The eight latest graduates will see the program having successfully trained 18 female cadets as Officers of the Watch, encouraging more females to pursue a career within the maritime industry.

PacTow General Manager, Neil Papenfus describes the Women in Maritime program as “a pioneering initiative that is helping train PNG’s next generation of seafaring professionals.” He says that “the new Officers of the Watch will help alleviate the problem of workforce shortages in PNG’s maritime sector, and that their skills and knowledge will benefit PNG for decades to come.”

Scholarship holders in the Women in Maritime program receive both classroom and practical training.  The practical training comprises an onshore component, as well as a year of critical sea time.  The women’s PNG sea time is on PacTow vessels, but more importantly, also on sister company Consort Express Lines’ vessels. 

Significantly, Swire Shipping provides the cadets with extremely valuable international sea time on much larger, more sophisticated, and technologically advanced vessels.  During their cadetships, the recent graduates visited ports in Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand on Swire Shipping vessels. 

To date, 34 women have been awarded a scholarship as either a Deck or Engine cadet.  A further six women will commence the program in 2024. 


PacTow delivers excellent, reliable, and safe marine services through PNG and the broader region. A well-maintained fleet, as well as a dedicated and exceptionally trained team underpin the company’s ongoing expansion and success. PacTow is part of a larger sea and land logistics group wholly owned by Steamships Limited.  To learn more about PacTow including its training and gender equality initiatives:  www.pacifictowingmarineservices.com.

For additional information please contact:
• Neil Papenfus: (+675) 7200 1107
• Linda Van Leeuwen: (+61) 407994890

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