Why a vessel is called „she”?

By on mai 6th, 2017

In 2013 I sailed for 5 days with Ebba Maersk which was once the largest vessel in the world. But knowing that there were bigger vessels out there didn’t stop me from being mesmerised when the car dropped me next to the gangway.

The reason for on-boarding the vessel was to understand how a ship works in general, but more importantly meet some of the people I was communicating with on a daily basis, a.k.a the vessels’ crew. I strongly believe this was a great opportunity for me to have a clearer overview of what life at sea implies, and similar trips should be mandatory to anyone that works closely with the vessels.

As in any industry shipping has its particularities. As a newbie I was absolutely flabbergasted that my colleagues in the office were referring to the vessel as she. With my humble knowledge of English, I was sure that a thing that doesn’t breathe is an it. However, she was clearly the unwriten rule of how one was addressing a vessel. Therefore, during my trip I asked one of the officers to enlighten me on the matter. And this is what I got:

Now, I don’t believe this explanation still applies in 2017 when we are also having women captains, and the number of female officers in the world’s fleet is increasing steadily. So, I’m wondering when this unwritten rule of calling a vessel she will fade away?

Photo source


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