Braving the Tide of the Motherships as a Woman

The first in Malaysia to become a full-fledge port guide is here in Johor

Nurul Arrienne
The first female port guide in Malaysia, Nurul Arrienne

Venturing into a profession that is high-risk in maritime sector like port guides is less popular but Captain Nurul Arrienne Muhammad Yusoff believes in where there is a will, there is a way.

As the only female port guide out of 45 port guides in Tanjung Pelepas Port (PTP), Johor and the first ever in Malaysia, the 29-year-old woman with the title ‘Pilot’ reflected more on her involvement in the industry, saying it all began when her mother read a blog about maritime career.

Encouraged by her family, Nurul Arrienne then pursued a diploma in Nautical Studies at the Malaysian Marine Academy (ALAM), Melaka, supported by the shipping company MISC.

“I attended practical training on a MISC-owned ship for a year as a navigation cadet in my second year, and I continued my career as a navigation officer upon graduation.

As a 3rd Officer (Navigation) in sailing destinations, I gained experience for almost four years, mainly around East Asia.

“Once I read about the recruitment of PTP port guides, I immediately applied and was accepted as a port guide in 2018 after going through interviews and other exams,” she said in her interview with a local news portal here.

In general, the port manager’s job and task is to navigate and ensure that ships reach and exit the port safely, according to the eldest daughter of the two siblings.

This is because, no matter what the size, to prevent unnecessary items, the ship must be treated carefully when entering the port.

port inspector
The duty and role of the port inspector is to navigate and ensure that ships enter and exit the port safely – image credit Harian Metro

Her work schedule, according to Nurul Arrienne, is based on a shift, which is two days of the day shift, two days of the night shift, and two rest days. Day shifts occur at 7.00 am to 7.00 pm, and night shifts start at 7.00 pm to 7.00 am.

Nurul Arrienne said that there were instances where ship captains during her prior days as a port guide, who was surprised to see a female port captain boarding their ship.

Women shouldering the responsibility as port guide are common in western countries, so she would like to further promote the profession to women in this region too.

“In addition to providing a bright future, many women do not know at all about career opportunities in the maritime sector, especially port guides, although the field is large to explore.”

“I hope that more young people, particularly women, will venture into this field as it promises job opportunities and their own fulfilment,” she added.

Currently holding a B licence that entitles her to steer a vessel up to 175 metres (m) in height, there are two more tiers after B, namely A2 and A1 licences, before she could obtain the most sought after licence among all port guides including her, namely A (UR).

The licence would allow port guides to navigate small ships to a mega-sized ship.

“I have high expectations for that dream of mine to be fulfilled before the age of 30 next year,” she said.