The maritime industry is historically a male-dominated industry. But nowadays more and more women are choosing to join the sector. Many female officers can be found working in various grades at the Marine Department.
Besides the general grade officers, the department has about 100 female officers, accounting for about 10% of its total workforce. They hold positions including Senior Marine Officer, Senior Assistant Shipping Master, Ship Inspector, Assistant Marine Controller, Marine Inspector and Launch Assistant.
Assistant Marine Controller Peggy Hui joined the department in August 2017. Her main duty is to monitor sea traffic within Hong Kong waters at the Vessel Traffic Centre, providing navigational advice and safety information to vessels.
She recalled that during one shift, the centre received a report that an oil tanker exploded. Using the witness’ information, she confirmed the tanker’s location on the radar screen immediately and reported the incident to senior management. She then gathered more information to assist other government departments with the rescue.
“After this experience, I realised that I must always be on the alert to deal with emergencies.
“The biggest challenge is to provide a timely and effective response under ever-changing weather conditions and sea traffic to ensure navigational safety.”
After graduating from the Maritime Services Training Institute in 2007, Ms Hui worked for a high-speed vessel company for about a decade. She rose through the ranks to chief officer – the first assistant to the master.
When she was preparing to go study at the institute, Ms Hui’s family expressed some reservations about her decision.
“They thought I had chosen the wrong subject. I have now worked in this field for more than 10 years. They have seen how much I have progressed, and now they fully support me.”
Ms Hui has no regrets about her decision and believes women can be an asset to the industry.
“Even though we are considered physically weaker than our male counterparts, we are just as meticulous in our work and can complement each other. I think there are good career prospects in the maritime industry. The clear career path enables me to set goals and work hard to achieve them.”
The department currently has three female ship inspectors. Lilian Chan is one of them.
Ms Chan joined the department over three years ago. She was first posted to the Maintenance & Support Section then later transferred to the Government New Construction Section.
“In the Maintenance & Support Section, I was responsible for monitoring the repair progress of government vessels so that they could resume duty on time.”
Before joining the Marine Department, she worked on ocean-going vessels and in shipyards, so working in a non-office setting suits her better.
“I prefer walking around instead of sitting in the office. When I complete the job myself or get the vessels back to their position safely, I feel a sense of achievement,” Ms Chan added.