Life of a seafarer

Wakinyila Running - known as Waki to friends, family and colleagues - is a third officer at Maersk Tankers and currently sailing on the Intermediate vessel, Bro Nibe. Her career takes her around the world as she and her colleagues contribute to global trade. 


Wakinyila is 28 years old and was born in the US but grew up in Denmark, where she lives today. She has always been interested in working in an international environment and in travelling the world, which is why she chose a career in shipping. “When I then read about the education I could receive, it just spoke to me – and it all went from there,” she says.

What appeals to her most about sailing a tanker vessel is that “you don’t always know what location you’re going to next.” Like buses, container vessels operate on fixed schedules, but tankers are more like taxis: the destination of each voyage is determined by where the customer needs to transport cargo. Furthermore, a voyage is not scheduled far in advance and the destination can sometimes even change within a short time, at the discretion of the customer. “It’s exciting when you can’t see so far into the future,” she says.

In 2014, Wakinyila started as a cadet at Maersk Line, and since July 2017 she has been working as a third officer for Maersk Tankers. Her daily tasks entail holding the 4.00-8.00 watch on the bridge, which includes steering the vessel. When in port, Wakinyila is in charge of loading and discharging the vessel’s cargo. From the ship’s control centre, she monitors how much cargo is on board while also controlling the cargo pumps.


Contributing to global trade
Wakinyila and her colleagues on board are well aware of the impact their work has. She remembers a specific example from a previous assignment on Britta Maersk. “ We were sailing with palm oil and molasses, and I remember thinking how much food could be made with the amount we were carrying. I realised how important it was that we delivered the products on time and in the correct quality as they would be used for consumption.”

Whenever Wakinyila now sees vegetable oils or molasses in a product’s ingredients, she wonders whether they might have been carried by a Maersk Tankers ship. She adds: “This to me shows how what we do is part of a bigger picture.”

Sharing insights from life at sea
On her Instagram account, “lifeofaseafarer”, Wakinyila shares insights from her daily life at sea, inspiring people around the world to take up a career offshore. What started as a channel for family and friends has quickly turned into a popular Instagram account with more than 6,000 followers. “When I started in this profession, I couldn’t find much information about the lives of other seafarers and, in particular, women at sea, so I decided to show what it’s like to be a seafarer from a female point of view,” she says. Today, Wakinyila is contacted by many people on Instagram who are interested in a career offshore.