Girl ahoy! Maiden sailor first for state - Bibhusita Das is lone woman among 26 crew members on her ship

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By MANOJ KAR
  • Published 19.01.13
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Paradip, Jan. 18: Forget burly men with twirling moustaches. Bibhusita Das doesn’t have a moustache, nor is she a man. But she’s a sailor, and she isn’t “all at sea” while sailing.

This young woman has broken barriers to enter the world of shipping and is the first woman officer from Odisha onboard a shipping vessel.

The 28-year-old marine engineer arrived in Paradip port yesterday in a coke-carrier ship from Australia and was felicitated by the port trust. Among the 26 crew members, she is the lone woman.

The Shipping Corporation of India, the country’s largest shipping company, first recruited her.

Hailing from a family that has absolutely no link with shipping or the marine sector, Bibhusita came onboard her first vessel last year. But her mariner boss wasn’t exactly impressed, as she developed seasickness.

“The mariners on board thought that I had made a mistake by opting for a rigorous profession. They felt that I, being a woman, might not be able to withstand prolonged sailing and sea exposure. But I stuck to my guns with tenacity and vigour. I have proved them wrong,” she told The Telegraph.

“Women are as capable as men. They simply need exposure. Though girls are shying away from marine engineering, it’s a challenging job that is fitting for us. However, one needs to be gritty to be able to cope with needs of the job,” she said.

Even as a child, Bibhusita was fascinated by sailing and loved reading stories about sea voyages. That is how she took up a marine engineering course at CV Raman College of Engineering, Bhubaneswar. “My father Kurunakar Das, who retired from BSNL last year, was extremely supportive of me,” she said.

She got the job of a third engineer last year and opted for onboard sailing. Her first trip on a ship was from Haldia to Vizag. “I felt ill at ease at sea and began vomiting. The sea got the better of me and I went down with seasickness. The crewmembers, all men, were supportive and took good care of me. I started feeling at home,” she said.

Since striking a rapport with her colleagues, she gets an immense thrill from sailing and is thoroughly enjoying her work. “I have no family history in this profession, but my parents stood by me when I wanted to become a sailor. Till recently, it was unheard of for a woman to join a ship. But the Indian mindset is changing now,” she said.