A Life of a Container Vessel Captain: Part 1 of 4

A Life of a Container Vessel Captain: Part 1 of 4

8/20/2014 Umut Türker 2056 Times Read

Why do people do what they do? Not as in what they do in their everyday life--like why do they watch certain television programs--but why do they engage in certain occupations? Why do people get involved in designing printed circuit boards which are used in computers? Why do others construct and repair heating, venting, and air conditioning systems? What drives or excites them?


In my own life, I have worked in several fields and jobs. I know, and can even explain, the trajectory of my life (although I will not do it here as it may bore you, and is certainly not pertinent to this post) but to others, my path may be a mystery.

Why do people become container vessel captains or even enter the merchant marines? The recent film Captain Phillips certainly made the industry appear romantic, exciting and eventful and it may even inspire others to join this as a profession. However, the reasons are usually more down-to-Earth (or, perhaps more accurately, down-to-Sea). In some parts of the world, people (virtually always males) do what their fathers did. If a man is a tailor, then his son will be a tailor, his son will be a tailor, and so on. In certain fields (especially film acting) the excitement and allure of it is ingrained on the children from an early age, and if the parent is successful then family connections make things easier and smoother.

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For cargo ship captains and personnel, the over-riding reason seems to be a love for the sea and its openness (although some captains and employees were raised away from the seas and oceans) and that they developed this at a relatively young age (usually in their teenage years). Captain Dexter of the Seaborn Odyssey saw a poster at age 17, showing beautiful beaches and two Merchant Marines. He instantly realized that, although he also considered being an airline pilot, the allure of exotic, faraway places was the ideal for him. Roy Whelan of the Maersk Kithira started his profession at age 15, and has been at it for 40 years.