Tales from the Sea. Jennifer Stanner

4 min read
10 Feb 2022

Our technology bridges oceans – and so have many of our colleagues here at Wärtsilä Voyage. For example, Jennifer Stanner navigated her way from green 18-year-old deck cadet to chief officer during her decade on the waves. Experience her stories and discover what makes her so passionate about our industry – from seafarer to seafarer. 
Meet our mariners. 

Like a duck to water 

Jennifer was thrust into working life onboard a ship fresh out of maritime academy in the UK, and it’s fair to say that she took to a life on the ocean waves like a duck to water. The student has now become the teacher, with Jennifer firmly anchored back in port, passing on her vast knowledge of navigation systems to the next generation of seafarers. 

My first day on a vessel 

Having spent just six weeks at maritime academy learning basic navigational and seafaring skills, I was completely overwhelmed by my first day onboard. I spent most of it like a rabbit in headlights, getting lost in the maze of corridors and staircases. Not being able to find your way around doesn’t exactly speak volumes for your skills as a navigator! After that it was time to get my hands dirty and graft along with the rest of the deck cadets – painting, greasing and taking my turn at the watch. 

My last day on a vessel 

When I stepped off a ship for the last time, I didn’t know that would be the end of my life as a seagoing navigator. Although I’d been thinking about moving into a ‘normal’ nine-to-five job I hadn’t yet made a conscious decision to give up a life at sea and was due to come back to begin another contract. However, while ashore, I had the opportunity to apply for a teaching position in the north-east of England. 

My most memorable moment 

At sea you have the chance to see things with your own eyes that most people only get to experience in nature documentaries. If I had to pick a most memorable moment it would be when we were cruising in Glacier Bay off the coast of Alaska. Out of nowhere a pod of humpback whales appeared under the bridge wing; they were bubble netting, which is when they herd a school of fish into a tight group to make it easier to feed. It’s a sight that I’ll never forget. 

My most valuable lesson 

Never make assumptions. Get all the information you need first, and then use it to make an informed decision. I still follow this lesson in my everyday life, and it’s something that I try to instill in my students too. 

The one thing that still makes me smile 

There are two things that still bring a smile to my face. The first is looking up at a blanket of stars above my head while on watch, crossing the Atlantic in the middle of the night. The sight of the night sky at sea is seared into my brain. The second is singing karaoke in the Bosun’s store with my crewmates, where many a merry night was had by all.  

When I was at sea, I wish I’d had 

Auto-routing, which is a function of the Wärtsilä Fleet Operations Solution (FOS) that automates route planning. It would have made my seafaring life as a navigator a whole lot easier and less stressful! I’m always preaching to our R&D and product managers that our goal is to make things simpler for seafarers, and Auto-routing is a great example of a solution that does exactly that.  

As a navigation systems trainer, despite no longer being out at sea Jennifer still gets to put her vast knowledge into practice every single day, ensuring that today’s seafarers can make the most of the advanced technologies at their disposal. 

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