Image courtesy Cal Maritime

Cal Maritime Appoints Its First Female Training Ship Captain

Mike Schuler
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September 23, 2022

Cal Maritime has appointed the first woman to serve as captain of its training ship.

California State University Maritime Academy announced this week that Samaro Bannister-Schneider will serve as interim captain of the TS Golden Bear. Captain Bannister is Cal Maritime alumnus who brings with her an extensive resume in marine transportation and deep-sea shipping.

“Captain Bannister is an experienced master mariner who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Cal Maritime and I know that every cadet will benefit immensely from her leadership on Training Ship Golden Bear,” said Cal Maritime President Thomas A. Cropper. “She is a superb and welcome addition to our talented team of faculty and staff, who represent the diverse range of dedicated professionals who make our national maritime industry successful.”

Bannister, who holds an unlimited master’s license, graduated Cal Maritime’s Marine Transportation (MT) program in 2000. She began her career on Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull (SWATH) research vessels before moving up to a larger fleet of vessels, such as Military Sealift Command’s Watson Class LMSR roll-on/roll-off vessels. Prior to MSC, Captain Bannister spent over 14 years with Maersk Line Ltd and Ocean Ships Inc. in senior and junior positions. She also worked in direct support of Operation Iraqi and served senior positions for Joint Logistics Over the Sea (JLOTS) off Guatemala in 2007 and off Lynnhaven, Va. in 2008.

The last six years of her deep-sea service were spent as Commanding Officer of MSC’s USNS Soderman, up until 2014 when she moved shoreside to start a family.

“It is with a full heart and great enthusiasm that I return to California State University Maritime Academy,” said Captain Bannister. “When I heard the Training Ship Golden Bear was in need of a captain, my compass went true and I knew this was an incredible opportunity to give back. Cal Maritime opened doors and prepared me for a unique career of being a Merchant Mariner. My time spent and education received allowed the dreams of a small-town girl from Colorado to become a reality. I am beyond appreciative for the years spent sailing deep sea, and for the amazing mentors whose knowledge helped me solve difficulties encountered on my journeys. I am appreciative of my recent time teaching at Training Resources Maritime Institute.

In her off time, Captain Bannister apparently enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking and biking.

“I am especially grateful for my husband Jack and daughter Madeline who will be joining me and for my parents, Jim and Kent Milski whose sense of adventure and unwavering support were the catalyst for my career. I look forward to leading the next generation of Merchant Mariners into this exciting field. I am thrilled to be the new Captain of the TSGB and look forward to meeting you all,” Captain Bannister said.

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