TODAY'S PAPER

Female crew members no longer a rarity on LI ferries

The ferry to Fire Island is manned by women.

The crew of Fire Island Ferries Inc. is often composed entirely of female captains and deckhands, bucking expectations in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Women make up about a third of the ferry’s summer staff of 200 and, depending on how employee shifts work out, frequently run boats without any male crew members.

“It’s showing times...

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The ferry to Fire Island is manned by women.

The crew of Fire Island Ferries Inc. is often composed entirely of female captains and deckhands, bucking expectations in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Women make up about a third of the ferry’s summer staff of 200 and, depending on how employee shifts work out, frequently run boats without any male crew members.

“It’s showing times are changing and girls can do what they want,” said Morgan Mooney, 30, of Bay Shore, one of the company’s four female captains. “Girls work just as hard, if not harder. It’s not to prove anything. It’s just how we are.”

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All-female crews have become the norm at the ferry company in the past three to five years, said company president Tim Mooney, who is Morgan Mooney’s father. Capt. Morgan, as some call her, said she was the only full-time female captain when she began running boats eight years ago and only the third in the company’s 70-year history.

Female crew members said that while they share a sense of camaraderie and pride with the other women, they’re no longer fazed by the demographics.

All the hands on deck are women aboard this Fire Island Ferries boat.

“For us working every day, we don’t even see the big deal,” said deckhand Julianna De Simone, 19, of Brightwaters. “It’s what we’re used to.”

But the makeup of the company’s five-member crews has surprised and delighted some representatives of international maritime organizations, who said they have not heard of any all-female ferry crews. Women are only an estimated 2 percent of the maritime industry, according to the London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation.

Lena Dyring, the seafarers’ representative on the federation’s women’s committee, said “it can be difficult for women to break the barrier” in the field, especially because being the only woman on a vessel “could leave her in a very vulnerable position.”

“Thankfully, this attitude is slowly but surely changing, and women are starting to see seafaring jobs as an option for them,” Dyring said. “They are starting to see successful women out there working at sea, and then it’s much easier for them to see themselves doing the same thing.”

Fire Island Ferries Inc. is not the only Long Island ferry company ahead of the curve. Davis Park Ferry, from Patchogue to Fire Island, Sayville Ferry and North Ferry, from Greenport to Shelter Island, often have all-female crews, depending on employee schedules, officials said.

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Kaitlyn Colgan, 20, a Fire Island Ferries Inc. deckhand, said she doesn’t understand why more companies do not have female crews.

“I don’t see any difference between us,” the Islip resident said. “Even with the heavy lifting, we get the job done.”