Mar 24

Careers at Sea Interviews Ellie for National Careers Week

Careers at Sea interviewed Ellie Stirzaker about her apprenticeship, her current job role and her passion for the shipping industry. Below is what she said.


Why did you choose a career at sea?

I grew up by the sea with my uncles being trawlermen in what was once a massive industry in my hometown. 

I wanted to add to this family ‘tradition’ and be the first woman in my family to work at sea. I spent a good chunk of my childhood and teenage years as a member of sea cadets going on offshore voyages, camps, earning qualifications and just boosting my confidence for the ‘real world’!

Sea Cadets was a massive factor in my decision to work at sea and I’ll be forever grateful for the organisation itself as well as the staff involved.

What is your job role now?

I am an Efficient Deckhand on an offshore supply ship

What apprenticeship did you complete and what was the training programme like?

I completed an Able Seafarer apprenticeship at City of Glasgow College. We had two college phases and the rest of the time in between was to gain sea time, this was within two years.To gain an AB’s ticket, 12 months of sea time is to be recorded as well as a completed training record book.

Describe your average day at sea

As I’m a watchkeeper, my day tends to start at 11 am when I am on the 12 pm - 4 pm watch. I wake up, shower, get myself reading for the day and then head down to lunch.  At around 11:45 am, I relieve the previous watchkeeper from the 8 am - 12 pm watch. He tells me what traffic is around, what operations the ship is involved in and just anything about the day I need to know. I spend my watch reporting to the second officer: ships, pots, small crafts, anything I can see out the window! My favourite thing to spot is dolphins, though!

During my watch, there is sometimes a drill. My role is to help out with rigging hoses for fire drills or helping rig equipment for enclosed space drills. At 3:45 pm, I then hand over to the 4-8 pm watchkeeper with the same routine of letting them know the traffic, obstacles and any information they need to know. I have 4-11:45 pm to myself as my downtime, which I spend either in the gym, reading, contacting family or watching TV. The cycle then repeats at 11:45 pm, and that then continues on for however long we are at sea. 

Being alongside in port is completely different to this routine as we generally do maintenance throughout the day. Having a mixture of being at port and at sea really breaks the trip up!

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of starting their career at sea?

You have lots to gain and nothing to lose; no matter how old or young you are, there’s a career at sea that will fit you. We all start somewhere, and this just might be yours somewhere!