Apprenticeship Profile: Patricia Brizuela, DFDS
Which DFDS ship are you currently working on?
Which apprenticeship have you completed – deck or engine?
How did you hear about the apprenticeship and what attracted you to the scheme?
I have always been passionate about the sea and wanted to pursue a career in the area, so I decided to look for opportunities on board ferries.
When working for DFDS as a stewardess on the Delft Seaways, I was always looking for ways to work in the deck department. I was speaking to one of the Captains who told me all about the apprenticeship scheme which DFDS offered and I was immediately interested in applying.
Why did you choose to do the apprenticeship specifically with DFDS?
Having worked for DFDS previously, it seemed like the next logical step to expand upon my skill set.
What were you doing before you joined the scheme?
I worked as a stewardess, looking after passengers in a primarily customer service role.
Could you describe a typical day at work as an apprentice?
I start the day by exercising at the on board gym a couple of hours before my watch begins. The working day starts when we arrive at the port and go to our mooring stations, where we learn about the mooring manoeuvres and help the AB’s (Able Seamen). We are also taught procedures for anchors and tugs.
Loading and discharging is a key part of my duties, this includes ensuring the ship is stable to proceed, preparing the deck for cargo to be loaded and unloaded and ensuring all team members are safe at all times.
When the ferry is moving we usually undertake maintenance of the ship, including chipping, painting, greasing and splicing. We’re also taught how to assist with steering the ship and being on bridge watch - which is important for navigation.
What is the main thing that you’ve learned during the apprenticeship?
We have taken part in numerous college, online and on board training courses, which I have really enjoyed as it has enabled me to gain new skills.
The main thing I’ve learnt is how to work safely, taking care of myself, my colleagues and passengers. "Safety first" is not just a sentence in a maritime environment, it is the philosophy that rules each and every day on board.
How did you find the adjustment to working shifts and living on board a ferry?
Having worked as a ferry stewardess, I found the adjustment relatively easy as I was already used to living on board and working in shifts.
What have you enjoyed most about the role?
Being part of a team that helps with the operation of the ship and playing a key role within the deck department.
What has been the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was the throwing of the heaving line – which is 50ft long.
What are your ambitions for the future? Can you describe what you’d like to do next?
I would like to become an Officer of the Watch, for which I will need to learn the duties and responsibilities of the Quartermaster. I also need to work towards acquiring the required bridge sea time to be eligible to take the OOW exams.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m a keen sailor and have sailed yachts for the last 20 years. I have my own yacht which I really enjoy spending time on; sailing for me is a way of life.
What do your friends and family think about your apprenticeship role?
They’re very happy that I’m able to pursue my love for the sea through my career.
About the DFDS Apprenticeship Scheme
The DFDS Apprenticeship scheme focusses on creating opportunities for young people in Dover and the surrounding area. DFDS offers two apprentice schemes; the Deck Scheme which sees students qualify as Able Seafarers, working in the deck department as a watchman and assisting with loading and unloading the ship; and the Engine Scheme which sees apprentices work towards becoming Marine Fitters within the engineering team, which is responsible for maintaining and repairing the ships.
The apprenticeships are offered in partnership with the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), the shipping industry’s central body for promoting and developing sector-specific education and training skills.