Tugs And Towing: Interview From The Deck
Growing up in a small mountain town in Colorado Captain Lindsay Price was never much interested in boats, but during a 7th-grade class trip, she fell in love with New York City. A few years later she was accepted to SUNY Maritime College and met a professor, Eric Johansson, who changed her life and introduced her to tugs and towing.
She tells gCaptain, “Soon after graduation in 2007, a small harbor tug company based in Galveston, Texas was looking for mates so I took a chance, loaded up my 1994 Honda civic and drove straight to Houston, Texas. One week later I was onboard a harbor tug working in the Houston Ship Channel. I quickly learned what the job entailed and fell in love immediately, how could I be getting paid to drive around large tugboats, handle ships and be on the water every day.”
Now as a captain, she is focused on bringing new tugboats out of the shipyard and is one of her company’s designated examiners. An active participant and panelist at the annual Women on the Water conference, you can also find her at a number other maritime conferences around the world and she works closely with local high schools in the Houston area promoting the maritime industry and getting young people interested and aware.
You were one of the first female officers hired on at your company. How does a relatively small company move from a single female to over a dozen females (including several captains) working on tugs across the fleet?
My company has always had success in staying “ahead of the game” in all aspects. When I was hired on, the company knew that women working on tugs was a reality and they embraced it with open arms. I was welcomed and valued, and any issue I’ve ever encountered has been immediately corrected.
The company has always been non-discriminatory and supportive of hiring both women and minorities. Like all industries, every woman at my company has their own way of striving to be their best but that alone is not enough. You need a company that supports and values its female mariners.
I have started a mentor group within my company where I reach out to all females when first hired, introduce myself, and make sure they know I can be contacted at any time with any concerns or needs for guidance.
WomenOffshore, WISTA, WIMO’s, The Nautical Institute, Propeller Club and mentoring high school kids. How do you balance helping others with helping yourself advance your career?
I am very passionate about the industry, so I don’t see attending events, meetings, and conferences, as a burden, but as an opportunity to also advance myself and make important networking connections. Through these incredible organizations, I have not only had to opportunity to help others but I, myself, have also met many mentors that have led me on the right path to further my career.
What is the biggest positive change you have seen for women entering the Maritime Industry over the last 13 years?
Support. Organizations like WomenOffshore and SeaSisters.org opened up lines of communication and allowed women to reach out and ask questions or talk about issues and concerns. Over the past 11 years, MARAD has sponsored the annual Women on the Water conference which rotates between the various Maritime Academies and focuses on cadets who are about to enter the industry. During the conference, both male and female cadets really learn the value of networking and mentorship from professionals in the industry. In 2019, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recognized women in the industry by making their annual theme “Empowering Women in the Maritime Industry”.
As a captain, have you found yourself operating outside of your comfort zone?
Constantly! It is almost impossible to become truly comfortable in this industry because the conditions are always changing in the blink of an eye. The ships that we assist are always changing, their cargo status, the assistance that they need, and even traffic situations. Every job has its unique risks and considerations, and no day is ever the same.
As Captain, I have three primary responsibilities: the safety and health of my crew, the tug, and the safe handling of ships that frequent the Houston and Galveston ports.
One of my biggest challenges is balancing the work the tug does, and also ensuring that all crew members are safe, taken care of, and that we all work well together. We have very small crews, and we live and work in very close quarters. Ensuring that everyone is happy and that their needs are met is integral to a safe and successful watch.
One of my favorite aspects of the job is the opportunity to train. I believe my calm and patient demeanor helps me be a better trainer. I enjoy putting people in uncomfortable (not dangerous), hands-on situations so they can not only learn, but also get real-life experience.
How do you stay motivated on the job?
I take great pride in my job and set goals accordingly. I tell my crew, “This is our boat and we must keep it in the best shape possible.”
I often join them in performing maintenance, as I believe an officer should be able to do anything on the boat. Having small crews, we become very close, and we all enjoy spending time with each other both on and off the clock.
I love that my company has a culture of safety, and our commitment to training provides us with a sense of pride in knowing that safety comes first.
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