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Captain Belinda Bennett kindly donated her uniform to Merseyside Maritime Museum recently.
She is the first woman to command a Windstar Cruises ship, and the first Black captain in the commercial cruise industry. In September this year she was honoured with the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service for services to the promotion of the maritime sector, and was presented with her medal by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne at Trinity House in London.
"It is an absolute honour to receive this medal. I hope that young people around the world will follow in my footsteps with hard work and dedication.
I have to thank my family, friends and work colleagues for their support over the years and every day we continue to learn.
My career at sea has allowed me to see much of the world and its cultures of which I am thankful.
This medal may be awarded to me but it belongs to all who have supported me over the last 24 years at sea,"
Captain Belinda Bennett.
Belinda was born in St Helena, a British Overseas Territory, and from an early age was drawn to the sea. She enrolled as a deck cadet at the age of 17 on board cargo ship RMS St. Helena, and progressed rapidly through to the ranks to Third Officer.
In 2003 she became Chief Officer on a private yacht, and also worked for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company before joining Windstar Cruises as Second Officer in 2005. Since then she has worked on various Windstar ships and was promoted to Captain in 2016.
It is encouraging to see women like Belinda trailblazing in the maritime sector, but statistics show that just 2 per cent of seafarers worldwide are women. The sector is working to try and address this vast imbalance - for example Maritime UK has established the Women in Maritime Taskforce, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has selected 'Empowering Women in the Maritime Community' as their theme for World Maritime Day 2019 (26 September).
The uniform badge worn by Captain Belinda Bennett is part of the Maritime History collection at Merseyside Maritime Museum, along with her uniform. They are not currently on display.
Photo of Captain Belinda Bennett courtesy of Windstar Cruises.
- Accession number MMM.2018.34.2