ESL Shipping is trying to lead by example by promoting chief officer Katariina Mankinen as its first female captain.

The experienced officer has taken command of the 445-dwt pusher tug Rautaruukki (built 1986).

Mankinen has worked at ESL Shipping since 2011, previously holding the position of chief officer on the 25,000-dwt LNG-powered handysize bulker Viikki (built 2018).

In that role, she also completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering to broaden her understanding of technical systems.

“It’s great to have the possibility to learn new things and to gain more experience,” Mankinen said.

But ESL knows more needs to be done on diversity, as only 2% of seafarers working on EU-flag vessels are female.

“At ESL Shipping, the number of female seafarers has remained low as well,” the company said.

“We hope Katariina’s example encourages other women to apply to ESL Shipping. We see diversity strengthening our on-board teams and the whole organisation,” added sea personnel director Mikko Rausti.

ESL Shipping also identifies a generational shift taking place as many long-serving employees retire.

“At the same time, there is huge global demand for a competent crew,” the company said. “On the positive side, this gives ESL Shipping the opportunity to seek and promote several young and hard-working personnel to new positions and ranks within the fleet.”

Earlier this month, ESL Shipping promoted management team member Frida Rowland to a new role as director of corporate business development at the company and its Swedish subsidiary, AtoB@C Shipping.

Rowland has been at the group for nearly eight years, most recently as a business unit director.

She has also worked for Finnish line Containerships, which was later bought by CMA CGM.