It's like deja vu all over again.

The quote, famously attributed to American baseball legend Yogi Berra, may aptly describe the situation facing International Seaways chief executive Lois Zabrocky as she prepares to receive the Connecticut Maritime Association (CMA) commodore award on Friday in Stamford, Connecticut.

This comes a year after Zabrocky first received the same CMA award. She is the first shipping executive to hold the honour for two years.

As with many disruptions and dislocations over the past 18 months, there is a certain pandemic to credit for the oddity of the once and future CMA commodore.

So thanks a lot, Covid-19.

Zabrocky, 52, technically became the third woman to wear CMA's trademark tri-corner hat last October, when the conference was held virtually due to the virus outbreak.

Conference organisers are holding the event in hybrid fashion this year and decided Zabrocky deserved a do-over with actual humans in the same room.

So come Friday night, here we go again.

Last October, TradeWinds reported Zabrocky's shipping saga: the one-time Iowa farm girl who followed her brother to the US Merchant Marine Academy, went to sea and then overcame initial scepticism over a woman's ability to succeed in chartering jobs with a mix of talent, market savvy and work ethic.

Now continuing a 29-year career, she sits atop one of the largest US-listed tanker companies, International Seaways, made larger by its $2.2bn all-stock acquisition of neighbouring Diamond S Shipping in July.

'A high honor'

Connecticut Maritime Association commodore Lois Zabrocky cautions not to count out the tanker market with an expected rebound ahead. Photo: Contributed

Asked to reflect on the year between her commodore ceremonies this week, Zabrocky was characteristically focussed on shipping markets.

"It is a high honor to continue to wear the commodore hat as all of us involved in shipping in Connecticut forge ahead, and it will very soon be time to pass the hat on to one of our shipping brethren, perhaps in the rocketing container sector or even in dry cargo where fortunes are being earned carrying iron ore and coal today," she said.

Zabrocky noted that at the first installment, tanker markets were just coming off a record-high contango oil market fuelled by floating storage opportunities.

"The tanker market rates suffered over the last year as inventories have drawn down around the world. Heading into the fourth quarter, the world energy markets are all off to the races with every shipping sector except for tankers already at the party," she said.

"Still don’t count the tanker market out, inventories are back at or below five-year averages, in Japan plants are switching away from expensive gas to oil where they can, and demand has quietly been rising all year."

At the same time, International Seaways will cut steel next month on the first of its dual-fuel VLCCs chartered long-term to Shell, and will be sailing the tankers by early 2023.

"We are busy integrating the Diamond S fleet with the [International] Seaways fleet and as we head into the winter markets, we will be ready to take part in the upturn in tanker demand," Zabrocky said.