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Our Industry Person of the Week is an Essential Worker! Meet Serena Webber-Bey, Port Engineer based out of Long Beach, California. Here’s what she had to share!
“I went to a specialized college for Marine Engineering and graduated in 2004 with a degree in Marine Engineering, Mechanical. My Third Assistant Engineers license allows me to sail on Steam, Diesel and Gas Turbine powered vessels. I have since earned my Chief Engineers license, Unlimited Horsepower for both Steam and Diesel powered vessels.
After going to sea for 15 years, I am now working as a port engineer for a shipping company and based out of the port of Long Beach. What I love most about my job is the ability to immerse myself in a subject and use my experience and technical capabilities to understand the problems my vessels are facing. I am most proud of getting the vessels what they need in port or at sea in order to move cargo on schedule. That’s how you get the ‘atta-girls’ in this current world.
For anyone considering a career at sea, in engineering or as a port engineer, I suggest spending the time improving your technical knowledge. Reading manuals and tracing ship systems while I was a watch engineer has greatly benefited my position today. Those efforts translate into being able to pick up new knowledge in unfamiliar environments and we rarely have the same problem twice.
Last year, I sailed as Chief Engineer on a 45-year old steam ship. Luckily, when I was sailing as first engineer, I was given the opportunity by my superior to operate on that level before-hand because they could see that I was interested in advancement. My time as Chief involved breaking the ship out from a stationary lay-up, bringing the plant and ship online, bunkering, taking on and delivering cargo, and laying the vessel up again. The vessel was recently towed to a ship breaking yard for the end of its life and I was the last Chief Engineer!”
When asked how she is faring in this ‘new normal’, Serena Webber-Bey responded: “Luckily, I get to work from home a good portion, but when my vessel comes in to port, we have to be there and that’s when it gets tricky, Working in a loud environment, it’s hard to hear each other. We want to avoid being too close, but the masks hamper good communication. So we do the best we can.”