Port of Newcastle Chief Engineer, Dana Crampton was recently featured in the Women in Maritime social media campaign being run by the Nautical Institute of South East Australia (NISEA).

My name is Dana Crampton. I am a Marine Engineer on the David Allan at Port of Newcastle and have been working in the maritime industry for 21 years. My first ship was the Iron Newcastle as a 17-year-old Christmas tripper, where I instantly fell in love with the thrum of the big two-stroke engine. I started with a three-year cadetship at BHP, studied at TAFE NSW Tighes Hill and spent my sea time on The Iron Chieftain and the Northwest Sandpiper, where I had my first dry-docking experience in Yanai, Japan.

I sat my Watchkeepers motor orals in June of 2001 and set off on the MV Pioneer sugar ship as a very green third engineer travelling to the Philippines and Singapore. The engineers onboard were amazing and taught me pretty much everything I know today. BHP left the shipping industry at the end of 2001 and we were all transferred over to the new company, Teekay. Nothing changed for us except our overalls. I spent seven years with Teekay and then Shell on the gas buggies as a cryogenic engineer. I left to study my Steam Chiefs and, on 11 May 2009, I walked out of Newcastle’s AMSA office with my Class 1 Steam and Motor ticket. I headed to WA to work for MMA Offshore as a first, then Chief Engineer. Here I worked on numerous types of vessels doing jobs from pumping mud and cement, to drilling rigs, to lifting and moving anchors for rigs.

I left the industry for 18 months to play women’s AFL, which was a great experience that was cut short when I tore my ACL and couldn’t play or work. During this time an engineer’s job came up on the David Allan, Newcastle’s own dredger. My partner used to joke when we took the dogs for a run ‘there goes your next job’ as it sailed passed. I never once thought six months later I would be working on the David Allan as Chief Engineer. I have found working for Port of Newcastle quite different to any other company, being so close to the office and being able to communicate with and regularly see people at the office. The office staff are very friendly and welcoming, the last seven months have been a pleasant experience. Not having to wait three to six months for spares and stores is something that is really nice as well!

The main challenges that I face are the same as any other woman working in any industry. I have experienced a fair share of challenges working in a male dominated workplace over the years, but overall 90% of the people I have sailed with over the years have treated me just like any other engineer.

Being the only female on a ship is something that I am very used to. I can count on my hands how many times in my career I have sailed with another female on a ship, but I have never sailed with another female engineer. I think the reason most women who enter the industry leave is to start a family. The industry isn’t really set up for women. What I would like to see more is job-share arrangements, especially for women who want to get back into the industry after having children and being away for a good part of 12 months. We also need more opportunities for women wanting to start families to work ashore and not away. These changes would assist the industry to attract and retain more women.

Find out more about NISEA’s ‘Women in Maritime’ campaign and read more profiles of inspirational women working in the maritime industry across the world here.

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