Odfjell promotes first female Captain writing history in 109-Year-Old Owner

Norway´s chemical tanker company Odfjell promotes first female Captain, another record-breaking year for the company in terms of gender diversity promotion, as Odfjell has 27 female seafarers working at various levels and positions, including two chief officers, two third engineers, and an electrical trainee.

Lise Henriksen embarks on the next leg of her extraordinary seafaring journey as she boards Bow Sky as captain.

She joined Odfjell as a deck cadet at Bow Chain in 2010, one year after completing her studies in nautical engineering at the University of Tromsø.

Since then, her career has taken her onboard ten different Odfjell vessels, including the Bow Mekka, Bow Sky, Bow Summer, Bow Hercules, Bow Explorer, and others, as she has risen through the ranks.

From third officer to second officer, and then chief officer in 2019, Lise’s dedication to her profession has led her to the prestigious role of captain, as the company explains.

Her journey began in the most northern part of Norway in the tiny village Nuvsvåg. Fishing is a shared passion in Lise’s family, and although Lise’s father is now 70 years old, he still goes fishing whenever he gets the chance.

In a male-dominated industry, Lise Henriksen stands out as a trailblazer, as Odfjell notes. There is still considerable work to be done to achieve true gender equality in the shipping industry. A member survey from the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association from 2020 revealed that only 15% of leaders in the maritime industry are women. Among seafarers the number is 7%, which is less than one in ten.

In the international shipping segment, women account for only 3% of the whole workforce at sea. Fortunately, being a woman in the minority has never stopped Lise.

Reflecting on her journey, she acknowledges the historic nature of her appointment as the first female captain at Odfjell.

“I think my appointment demonstrates that the business is on the right track, so it’s a good thing and I’m very excited. On a personal level however, I have to confess that I could do without all the fuss and attention,” she says.

From his side the CEO of Odfjell, Harald Fotland, said that “Her expertise and leadership abilities have led her to this prestigious role, a historic appointment at Odfjell and in an international maritime field currently dominated by men.”