Autumn 2016

Subtech's first female barge master

Thobile Lusiba, 24, has taken charge of Subtech's vessel, Inkonkoni, on a dredging project in Durban Port.

When the newly qualified Thobile Lusiba enquired about a job as deck officer with Subtech in South Africa, she was thrilled to be told about an opening for a trainee barge master. She landed the job and is now happily ensconced on the Inkonkoni as Subtech's first female barge master.

"I grabbed the opportunity with both hands!"

Says Thobile, who was born and raised in Clermont, Durban and completed her maritime education at Durban University of Technology. In 2012 she started a cadetship on a South African training vessel and Odfjell Tankers and by November 2015 she was fully qualified as a deck officer.

"It is a great opportunity for me to be Subtech's first female barge master and I'm really happy to have been offered this role. It is sometimes challenging to be a woman in this industry but Subtech values the importance of balanced teams – ensuring a mix of ages and gender. I only know a few girls in the marine industry, but I think its a great industry to work in with lots of opportunity and that is why I am willing to do this work."

The barge master position puts her in charge of the Inkonkoni and its crew, rotating a split 12-hour shift with another barge master and crew. Thobile explains further;

"The Inkonkoni is a dredging barge so my responsibilities include dealing with dredging and maintaining harbours, and making sure the daily operations go smoothly and pollution-prevention is optimised.

Working the 6am to 6pm day shift, I have to make sure the barge is in the correct position and meet with the crew then complete relevant paperwork and reporting and deal with anything extra which may arise in the course of a day.

I'd love to be a captain on a vessel one day, and my hope is to move onwards and upwards from here to work on Subtech's bigger vessels such as Ndongeni, Reier, or even move across to work in shore operations."

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