I came across a wonderful story last year that reminded me of the incredible impact women are having across so many industries. Cape May-Lewes Ferry, a ferry that takes you across the Delaware Bay, promoted Meghan D. Palmer of North Cape May, NJ and Melissa Velli and Sharon Lyn Urban, both residents of Cape May, NJ to rank of Pilot in the Marine Department.
As the second in command aboard a ferry vessel, the Pilot assists the Captain with the safe navigation and operation of the vessel.
“Sharon, Melissa, and Meghan are well-respected marine professionals who know the Delaware Bay inside and out,” remarked Stan Hansen, Port Captain for the Cape May – Lewes Ferry. “They are proven, successful leaders, possessing outstanding ship handling and navigational talents as well as strong interpersonal skills. These ladies are a credit to the maritime profession and we’re fortunate to have them as part of our team.”
Serving as Pilots, Ms. Palmer, Ms. Velli, and Ms. Urban are responsible for supervising the loading and discharging of vehicles and patrons on the car deck, serving as the on-scene leader during onboard drills and emergencies, completing the required records and logs during a shift, as well as assisting the Captain with overall vessel management.
“I appreciate and welcome the chance to serve as a permanent Pilot aboard Cape May – Lewes Ferry vessels,” Palmer said. “I really enjoy my work and I couldn’t ask for a better job!”
Melissa Velli echoed the sentiments of her colleague. “I don’t really view it as a job,” Velli said. “I love the water, it’s great to be able to work with so many talented people and the smiling faces of our customers makes my day.”
“I really appreciate this opportunity,” Urban said. “It takes years of studying, training, and sea time, along with hands-on experience to be a deck officer. I am grateful for all the training and support that I have received from Captains, Pilots, Chiefs, Able-bodied seaman, and Ordinary seaman. I am especially grateful and proud to be on this journey with Meghan and Melissa.”
Both Ms. Urban and Ms. Velli joined the Cape May – Lewes Ferry marine department as Ordinary Seaman in 1997 and 2003 respectively. They rose through the ranks, serving as an Able-bodied Seaman and Mate prior to their recent promotion. A graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Ms. Palmer was hired at the Ferry in November 2011 as a seasonal Able-Bodied Seaman.
In addition to a Bachelor of Science degree in Logistics and Intermodal Transportation, Ms. Palmer also earned an Ocean’s Unlimited Tonnage Third Mate’s License during her time at the Academy.
The three ladies each possess United States Coast Guard (USCG) Inland Masters License of unlimited tonnage and USCG First Class Pilot upon the Delaware Bay License of unlimited tonnage. They are certified in CPR/First Aid, advance marine firefighting, and marine radio and radar operations.
Bravo to these incredible women! They are truly an inspiration!