Earning the stripes

Camilla Westergaard wants to be a Captain like her father. She is one of more than three-thousand cadets learning the theory and practical skills for work on Maersk vessels.

Camilla Westergaard
Camilla Westergaard was twelve years old the first time she said she wanted to be a Captain like her father. Now she is well on her way.

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Camilla Westergaard remembers the first time she said she wanted to be a Captain like her father. She was twelve years old. Today, she is 24 and well on her way.

She is currently back on shore for her last semester of university after having split the last 8 months between being a cadet on board a tanker ship and a container vessel sailing around Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

“My father was an officer in the Navy, so I’ve lived in that world since I was very young,” says Westergaard who grew up in Denmark and Greenland.

“I always wanted to travel, to face different challenges, and to meet different people and cultures. I also love sailing, that’s the main reason. I feel calm at sea.”

A life at sea

Westergaard wants to become a deck officer, and would eventually like to be a Captain. While the last eight months have provided her with hands-on training, now it is time to focus on the theoretical side of things at the Svendborg International Maritime Academy (SIMAC) in Denmark.

In six months’ time, she will have a Bachelor’s degree and head out to sea again to finish her training there. Where she will end up after that is anyone’s guess, but it will definitely involve a life at sea.

“I think this education is one, way too few people consider. A lot of people don’t even know it exists. I had my father, that’s how I got inspired. I think it’s important to spread the word about this career amongst young people. It’s just a great opportunity to get out and see the world.”