How I took up a career at sea – Captain Roselyn Kete, Nigeria’s first female master mariner
Captain Roselyn Tortor Kete has been remarked as Nigeria’s first female master mariner, having over 30 years of work experience at sea, with the last 10 years as a certified and licensed master mariner.
A native of Sangana in Akassa Kingdom of Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, she shares her story on what inspired her into a sea career.
“I started my carrier as a young female seafarer through the motivation of my father who was a Tug Master with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
On retirement, he came up with a local cargo wooden boat, which was called MV Omugo Queen, where I first saw steering wheel and became interested in learning and taking up a career at sea.
During my trips with him on one of the holidays, I saw a sail boat on the river with children and that sight further inspired me.
When I enquired from my father if I could join them, he directed me to Borokiri Almarine Yard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In another development was the MV SASA RIVER with Captain Beatrice Vormawah, who became the first female ship captain in Africa, where our sail training master, Captain John Wright, took us on an excursion to NPA Port to see the Captain of SASA RIVER. With this meeting, I was highly inspired.
In 1986, I joined the Sail Training Association (STA) of Nigeria as a Seamanship Trainee. I later proceeded to Sport Institute of Rivers State, Isaka (Former Sea School), where I continued my studies in seamanship, marine navigation and communication. Thereafter I joined Ocean Inscape Nigeria Limited (OIL) for my cadetship on board MV Schilturm on 22nd July, 1992.
After six months of training, Shell Nig. Ltd set up external exams for those that wrote the mock examination in June 1991 for Nautical Science, and I was the only female student among them.
In August 2000, I was enlisted for GMDSS and STCW courses in Ghana by my company, Tidewater International also known as Tidex Nigeria Limited. After which I enrolled for my Class 3 Deck Officers (COC) in the year 2001.
In 2002, I was called upon by the STA of Nigeria for winning the award of Commodore’s Cup of Nation by Commodore Fengason and His Royal Highness (HRH) King Alfred Diete-Spiff, the first Military Governor of Rivers State, who up till date is my coach and adviser.
Returning from Ghana and still working with Tidex Nigeria Limited, I continued with the COC Class 2/1 in 2005 through 2006. And in 2009, I was called and honoured with an empowerment award as the first female marine captain in Nigeria. That award was from Mrs Alanyingi Sylva, wife of the then Governor of Bayelsa State, His Excellency Timipre Sylva.
I later proceeded to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Akwa Ibom to seek for admission into a short term course on Mate Home Trade and was working with these licenses until the STCW 95/ White List Convention was set up by the IMO.
In 2012, I got my master mariner license and still working with it till date.
I use this opportunity to encourage every young female sailor/cadet (seafarers) to uphold their dreams to get to the top. It could be tough, but it is very possible to achieve.”