Seattle Maritime. We put the Sea in Seattle.
Seattle Maritime. We put the Sea in Seattle.

Be a part of a thriving industry! Washington maritime provides more than 148,000 jobs.

Salaries $20,000 above the Washington State average. Great benefits. Celebrating diversity. Opportunities for travel and adventure. Teamwork. Advancement. High tech skills. A commitment to community and sustainability. And these careers don't just include sea-based positions; the maritime industry employs countless land-based workers as well.

Meet a Mariner

Amy Scarton

Managing Director, Assistant Secretary, Washington State Ferries

Amy Scarton was drawn to the richness of the maritime culture in the Pacific Northwest and how Seattle is the center of that world. This was a huge contrast to other places she has lived: “New York has banking, D.C. its politics, but in Seattle part of our soul is the maritime industry and I’m really excited to be part of such a great tradition.”

 

Within her first year as head of Washington State Ferries, Amy participated in ordinary seaman training, which included firefighting, personal safety and survival, classroom time and job duty familiarization in the fleet. It was a great experience she shared with other newcomers to the ferry system.

 

Amy stresses, “There’s a wave of retirements both on deck and engine side upon us, so now is a great time to join us. Washington is a very diverse state and we want our ferry system to be diverse as well and be the employer of choice for people from all walks of life.”

Vanessa Packer

Contract Manager, 
Vigor

"I am half Iñupiaq (Eskimo) and grew up in Barrow, Alaska – the northernmost community along the Arctic Ocean. Growing up in a remote coastal village in Alaska that is only accessible via boat or plane most of the year, most freight to our town came via barge. I grew up where we would see the big ice breakers, like the Icebreaker Healy. There were always Coast Guard vessels and research vessels. I eventually found my way to Vigor in Alaska, starting as an executive assistant, because I knew people who worked there.

 

"Fast forward to today when I am the Contract Manager on a very complex ship repair project at Vigor’s Harbor Island shipyard.  There are many things I love about my work including the opportunity to progress and grow, working on complex projects, and gaining additional knowledge about design, construction and the operation of marine vessels.

 

"I also love interacting with the experts in the field who have been doing this for a long time. The best part is that my opinion is valued and I am able to contribute my skills to help manage an important project to be done safely, on time and on budget."

Sarah Scherer

Director/Associate Dean of Seattle Maritime Academy, a Seattle Central College Program

"I became a mariner partially on accident. I really did not know what I was getting into. I stayed a mariner and in the maritime industry because: I have seen things that most people only dream about. There is something amazing about looking out over the ocean with no land in sight. It is humbling to know how in control you feel when operating a big metal ship and then to realize how small you are in the middle of the ocean and how your control pales in comparison to the ocean’s fierce and glorious power. There is nothing like standing on the bridge on a clear night watching the moon light a pathway to the stars.

 

"Going to sea helped me to be humble and appreciative of my life on land and the people that love me. I learned to be fiercely independent, bold and creative. I have confidence in myself and who I am. I am not sure I would have gained that level of independence if I had not gone to sea. I learned I CAN do anything a man can do. Even if I cannot do it physically in the same way, I will do it differently and get the same result(s). This has served me well at sea and in my career on land. It is not easy being a woman in a man’s world… AND it is worth it once you “pay your dues.”

Capt. Linda Sturgis

Commander,

Sector Puget Sound

U.S. Coast Guard

Joining the military in general came naturally. My father retired as a Chief Warrant Officer, I had a brother in the U.S. Marine Corps and another brother had served in the Coast Guard, too. When I was a drilling reservist at Fort Eustis, Virginia and when mobilized to Europe to provide security for military outloads in support of Operation Desert Storm, I was always serving alongside Coast Guard units. When I was eligible to apply for Officer Candidate School I did so immediately and crossed over from the Army with 5 years and no break in service.

 

Tell us your favorite CG experience or story.

"There are so many - I had the privilege of sailing all over the world on a 378’ ship early in my career. I have also traveled to Italy, Singapore, and every state / territory of the U.S. in support of Coast Guard operations - it's been a great journey, that's for certain."

 

"As for outside the Coast Guard, I am a public serviced oriented person - so, anything I can do to give back to the community."

MST2 Kara DiNicola

U.S. Coast Guard

Tell us your favorite CG experience or story.

“My career started in 2009 as a SN at ANT Woods Hole, MA. At the time, it was a "more than 36 month" wait for MST A-School, so I decided I would give PATFORSWA a chance (best decision ever). I was assigned to shoreside support in Bahrain, but ended up having to fill in on CGC Monomoy enough to earn my Engineer of the Watch qualification where I was dubbed "Sniffen" (SNFN). My tour overseas was amazing and I created some of the best friendships and memories while there. I would have to say that I have had plenty of good Coast Guard stories, but I think the most memorable moment for me was after the Refugio Oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. As I was performing SCAT duties walking up and down the beaches of Santa Barbara, the "ah ha!" moment of "choose your rate, choose your fate" kicked in. I had always been grateful for my job in the Coast Guard, but that definitely helped in sink in a little more!"

 

What are your ambitions for future tours/career within or outside of the Coast Guard?

“I plan on staying in for at least 20, and would like to eventually pursue the CWO route.”

Capt. Carol Peckham

Crowley Marine Services

Captain Peckham has been a mariner for 20 years - 10 years with Crowley Marine Services and the last 3 years sailing as Captain on one of Crowley’s tugboats.

 

“I started out working on tall ships (traditionally-rigged sailing ships) drawn to them by the romance and nostalgia of the old sailing vessels.  In a male-dominated industry, if you did well you were respected, and you had a unique opportunity to excel. 

 

“While it hasn’t been easy, the rewards have been well worth it.  I tell people that being a mariner is an excellent way to earn a living and provide for a family.  Work hard and you’ll be accepted.”

Capt. Katrina Anderson

Foss Maritime

Katrina Anderson took her first steps as a toddler on a tug on Cook Inlet in Alaska. This woman has towboating in her blood.

 

Capt. Anderson, now 34, is the daughter of Carl Anderson, from whom Foss bought Cook Inlet Tug & Barge in 2011. She is now a harbor tug captain on Puget Sound.

 

Capt. Anderson began accumulating sea time by working summers on her father’s tugs while putting herself through college at Western Washington University in Bellingham. She sat for exams and got her master’s license about 10 years ago. She moved to Washington in 2013 to train with Foss for what she thought would be a masters’ position in Alaska, but it turned out that there were more opportunities on Puget Sound.

 

What does she like about her job?

 

“In Alaska, you have to do a lot of out-of-the-box thinking because of the weather, tides and ice,” she said. “Here, the ship work is challenging. Each job is different with little nuances and little tricks for putting each ship into its berth.

 

“There’s always a challenge, a personal challenge.”

LTJG Kim Jenish

U.S. Coast Guard

Why did you join the Coast Guard?
"I wanted to be part of something bigger than me and to know that my contribution to whatever I did had a meaningful impact on others. I grew up playing piano and eventually obtained my Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance. After teaching private piano lessons for a few years, I simply felt bored of what I was doing and did not want to go back to school just yet. I also wanted to be a stronger role model to my daughter to demonstrate that women can do anything they put their mind to. I desired to start a new and meaningful career sooner rather than later and that is when my husband, who was in the Air Force at the time, suggested I apply to the Coast Guard. After researching the CG’s missions, I knew this was an organization that I would be proud to serve. I was shipped off to boot camp on March 1st, 2010. Since then, my career has been nothing short of exciting and amazing.”

What are your ambitions for future tours/career within or outside of the Coast Guard?
“My future ambition in the Coast Guard is to eventually be CO of a small boat station. I love the missions that small boat stations do because they have such an immediate impact on the surrounding area on a daily basis. Somewhere in between operational tours, I hope to be selected for special assignment to the White House Situation Room to gain a unique perspective on what goes on behind the scenes of our country’s leadership. And when I’m old and retired from the Coast Guard, I’ll probably go back to teaching piano.”

Elizabeth Kosa

Chief of Staff,

Washington State Ferries

Elizabeth Kosa has been in the maritime industry for more than 18 years. After graduating from the U.S.  Merchant Marine Academy in 2000, she sailed commercially for various companies overseas. She began her career with Washington State Ferries as a senior port engineer in 2010.

 

Currently, Elizabeth is the first woman to serve as WSF’s chief of staff. Under the guidance of Assistant Secretary Amy Scarton, she leads and manages all areas of the organization. For Elizabeth, the best parts of the job are that “every day is new and different, our employees are awesome and we get to be in the water in the most beautiful place in the world.”

 

For those thinking about a career in maritime, Elizabeth strongly recommends becoming a regular at the waterfront or getting involved at the local marina. She recently told high school students, “Do the things that make you happy, the things that you strive to get worth out of and if that’s engineering, which is predominantly male, then go engineering. There is only one life.”

Stacy Eliot

Chief Mate,
Washington State Ferries

 

Born and raised in the Puget Sound region, Stacy Eliot loves the outdoors and being on the water. But it took the Great Recession for her to make the decision to follow her heart into maritime. Shortly after being laid off by an ad agency, she joined Washington State Ferries.

 

Stacy started as an ordinary seaman, eventually climbing the ladder to able-bodied seaman, then to chief mate. She completed the WSF Mate Orientation Program in March 2018 and currently works as a second mate on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island route. Stacy says she has no regrets giving up her sedentary job for one more active that lets her enjoy some beautiful wildlife.

 

When asked what surprised her the most about the maritime industry, Stacy said that it was that men and women are compensated more equally. With women making up only 10 percent of WSF’s licensed deck officers, she would like to see that number go up. But she warns interested prospects, be prepared for odd schedules and hours as maritime is a 24/7 job.

Ali Nuezca

Lead Supervisor,
Vigor

"I grew up in South Seattle and attended West Seattle High School. I started a family and began thinking about a career that would allow me to support them. A friend of mine worked as a boilermaker and always seemed to enjoy his job, so I enrolled in a welding class at what’s now Renton Technical College.

 

"While taking night classes twice a week, I also worked as a welder’s helper at a weld shop in Kent. Between classes and the welding job, I began learning the skills of the trade. I eventually joined the Boilermakers Union (Local 104) and worked in the maritime industry around the Puget Sound.

 

"In 2012, after working as an ironworker for a few years, I returned to the maritime industry and joined Vigor as a fitter welder.

 

"While working on the first of four Olympic class ferries for Washington State Ferries, I was promoted to the role of Lead Supervisor for the ferry project, which I continue to oversee.  I also worked on the St. Francis, an 88-foot San Francisco Fireboat that was named a Significant Boat of 2016 by WorkBoat. These projects are great examples of the important work we do in the maritime industry.

SN Kayla Miller

U.S. Coast Guard

 Why did you join the Coast Guard?

"Both my mother and father are proud Navy veterans, a fact that I take pride in as well. I decided to join the Coast Guard not only to go against the grain, but because I truly believed in the service’s missions: maritime stewardship, safety, and security. As we guard our nation’s waters, we in turn guard our nation as a whole. I derive my inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote, “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve.”

 

Tell us your favorite CG experience or story.

"It was last spring that our station received a distress call from a man and his son stranded in a cove on James Island. Not only were the two isolated because of the passing storm, but the father reported to have a head injury right before we lost communications. We lost no time and launched within a moment. This was my first SAR case as a qualified crewman. Excited, nervous, and determined, I was ready to be the best possible crewman I could be.

 

"We arrived on scene, and managed to help the two jump on board. Our draft made it impossible to safely maneuver within the cove, but once we embarked father and son, we started for the Anacortes hospital. 

 

"I struggled to maintain balance as I buckled them up into their seats and began to place a splint on the father’s hand. It was at this moment that he asked a question that I will remember throughout my life. The father asked me, “Do you need help, Sweetheart?” The man held no malice in his voice and I understood that as I was trying to help him, he was trying to help me. I simply smiled, laughed, and replied, “Now shouldn’t I be asking you that?” In that moment, the three of us were put at ease as we all laughed.

 

"It was a gratifying feeling seeing them climb into the ambulance, and as I paused for air for the first time in my first SAR case, we received yet another distress call from a paddle-boarder in Chuckanut Bay.”

Eileen Tausch, PE

Naval Architect / Electrical Engineer

Elliott Bay Design Group

“I decided to join the marine industry in college when I declared Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering as my major. I took the introduction to Naval Architecture class and was immediately hooked.  I didn't grow up near boats or on the water, so I definitely surprised my friends and family when choosing to join the marine industry. 

 

“The marine industry presents unique challenges in engineering. I may work on structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering projects all in the same day. I have recently enjoyed the challenges of combining naval architecture and transportation planning for work related to ferry systems. 

 

“Due to its niche nature, the marine industry is fairly close knit with deep roots. I have worked at Elliott Bay Design Group for nearly four years and love diving into the history of the company. Looking at ferries such as the COHO and COLUMBIA always fills me with a sense of wonder. Originally designed in the 1960s, the vessels are still successfully in service. The origins of EBDG (originally Philip F Spaulding and Associates) can still be seen on the water today.” 

LT Anne Jefferson

U.S. Coast Guard

“I joined the Coast Guard because of the impact that September 11, 2001 had on my family and my life. I spent 12 hours of that day, as a freshman in high school, wondering if my father had been killed in one of the towers. I was one of the lucky ones that got my dad back that day; too many from my high school were not as fortunate. After that day I wanted to do something to prevent 9-11 from ever happening again. It was a tossup for me what branch I would choose to serve in. I was leaning towards the Navy, but I was told that the Coast Guard is a tighter-knit community, that I would have an opportunity to do Homeland Defense and Law Enforcement, and that every position in the service was open to women. I applied for the USCGA, and after a 1-year stint at the Naval Academy Preparatory School, I made it there.”

 

“I had the opportunity to attend the 10th Anniversary of the “Women In Military Service For America” Memorial in Washington DC 10 years ago as a third class cadet at USCGA with guys and gals from the academy, Annapolis, and my mother who retired from the Army with some of her fellow Army Veterans. This year I had the opportunity to go to the memorial’s 20th anniversary and I realized how much of an impact that event had on my life and career. We listened to incredible service stories from women from all of the armed branches, and did a candle-lit march from Arlington National Cemetery to the Vietnam Women's Memorial with sisters and brothers from all of the armed services honoring those that came before us. Every opportunity I’ve had in this service came from the women before me, that put up with a hell of a lot just to serve. It made me grateful.”

Matthew Wichgers, PE

Elliott Bay Design Group

“I've always wanted to be a design engineer. My interests in high school were aerospace and/or ocean engineering. My family had a proud tradition of naval and maritime service, notably my grandfather who served in the Merchant Marine in WWII and through his career. After high school I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard as an operating engineer with the Machinery Technician rating. This experience deepened my love for the maritime industry. After the USCG I enrolled at Virginia Tech and obtained my bachelor of science in Ocean Engineering. My time on the deck plates and underway with the USCG has proved invaluable in my current career as a Naval Architect/Ocean Engineer.

 

“I've been a design engineer for ten years now, obtaining my Professional Engineering license and working at Elliott Bay Design Group in Seattle. What I love most about this job are the specific challenges each task brings, which requires a real commitment to lifelong learning. It is a rare day where I don't learn something new related to engineering or the maritime industry! Another great aspect is the chance to see your designs and ideas transition from the theoretical to the real-world.”

Matthew Roddy

Elliott Bay Design Group

“It started when I was a boy. My mother grew up enjoying the glacier-made lakes of the Midwest and brought her children to their shores every summer day she could. She had a twin brother who loved to sail catamarans. I quickly became his first mate and we ran with the wind from shore to shore. I also discovered a love of learning how things worked and how they were put together. Whether Legos or tree forts, I was happiest solving some physical, special problem. Journeying through school days found me wondering if I could combine love of boats and love of design. A professor simply asked, "Who designs those boats?" Floored at the obviousness of the question, I set off to find these people, learn from them and soon join them in the design of anything that floats.

 

“Living in the Pacific Northwest provides rich tradition and ample selection for a maritime vocation. I currently work for Elliott Bay Design Group where I help design new vessel concepts. With each project different than the one before it and yet distinctly pulling at those cores desires of my youth, I couldn't be happier working in this field.”

Amanda Dayton

Naval Architect,

Foss Maritime

Foss Shipyard in Seattle is on the cutting edge in the deployment of “marine robotics,” including three dimensional scanners and remotely operated underwater imaging equipment expected to produce a competitive advantage by lowering costs and improving efficiency and workflow.

 

Naval Architect Amanda Dayton of Foss’ Harbor Marine Group, who is leading a testing program for the high-tech equipment, said she knows of no other shipyard in the region that is exploring the technology as actively as Foss.

 

The underwater camera, called an ROV or remotely operated vehicle, is controlled through a 75-meter tether and can be used for such things as in-water hull inspections and surveys, internal tank condition assessments, and bid and drydock estimating.

 

“It produces high-resolution images, so we can tell the condition of the steel underwater and more accurately estimate costs as well as the amount of time that will be needed in drydock,” Dayton said. “We can have a better idea of what’s actually going on.”

 

Dayton is testing two kinds of 3-D scanners. One employs lasers and is designed to create images of such things as hulls or large compartments from a distance of 10 to 25 meters. A hand-held optical scanner works in small spaces and can be used to make images of smaller vessel components, like piping systems.

 

“The images the scanners make are like pictures, but they are measurable and high precision,” Dayton said. “We can click on different points and get an accurate measurement.In the past, we’ve had to wait for a vessel to arrive to measure everything,” she added. “If we can get a leg up on production before the vessel arrives, and then put everything in when it gets here, we can deliver the vessel to the customer more quickly and improve our workflow.”

 

Dayton got interested in robotics after using a Groupon to purchase an aerial drone, which she also uses to support shipyard projects.

 

“I wanted to learn more about the technology, and now I’m getting a second masters degree in unmanned systems,” she said. “I don’t think people are aware of all the potential there is in robotics. It’s a really exciting field right now and there’s a lot going on with it.”

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©Seattle Maritime 101. Design by Saunderson Marketing Group. Photos courtesy of Don Wilson, Port of Seattle, Vigor, Puget Sound Pilots, Seattle Maritime Academy, Seattle Propeller Club and Washington State Ferries.