First woman official guiding ships passing through Istanbul Strait

First woman official guiding ships passing through Istanbul Strait

Özgür Altuncu - ISTANBUL
First woman official guiding ships passing through Istanbul Strait

Gizem Turan, 31, has become the first woman official to serve in the Directorate General of Coastal Safety assigned with the duty to guide and assist vessels of 250-meters-long or more that pass the Istanbul Strait.

“I am the chief officer of the towing boat called Kurtarma 8, and the only woman working in a tugboat under the Directorate General of Coastal Safety,” Turan said.

Turan was one of the eight women graduates of the Maritime Transportation and Management faculty of Istanbul Technical University during her term and has been in the shipping business for about 10 years.

After working in freighters for years, she decided to join the Directorate General of Coastal Safety three months ago.

On being asked about her job role, she replied, “I guide and assist the vessels, which are 250-meters-long or more, that pass through the Istanbul Strait.”

She highlighted that she has two important duties while patrolling the strait with Kurtarma 8. The first is to help the vessels drifting out of control on the sea, especially at night, and the second is to help maneuver the big ships that are carrying tons of fuel to the new Istanbul airport.

She calls herself and the captain of the rescue vessel, Ali Murat Yıldız, “an emergency team.”

During the time when she was being interviewed, she escorted a Liberian-flagged vessel called Jupiter Sun, which was carrying dangerous goods, all the way from the Black Sea entrance of the Istanbul Strait till it reached the Marmara Sea.

“Some people in the ships we guide wave hands at us or take our photos or the people on the shores see us while we pass with Kurtarma 8 close to them,” said Turan.

“Sometimes, we see our photos on social media platforms. People who take our photos post them online,” she added.

Her name, Gizem, means “Mystery” in Turkish. So due to a wordplay, some call her “Boğaz’ın Gizem’i,” meaning “Mystery of the Strait.”

Born and raised in İzmir, some 480 kilometers away from Istanbul, she lives with their parents in the western province.

Her working shift includes alternate weekly schedules in which one week she works in Istanbul followed by a week off that she prefers to spend in Izmir.

“When I work in Istanbul, I live in my vessel. So, Kurtarma 8 is my workplace and my home at the same time,” she said.