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Cal Maritime training ship to have its first female captain

Samaro Bannister-Schneider, first female captain of Cal Maritime training ship

Posted on September 21, 2022

California State University Maritime Academy has appointed Samaro Bannister-Schneider to serve as interim captain of its Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB).

A 2000 graduate of Cal Maritime’s Marine Transportation (MT) program, she will serve as the academy’s first female TSGB captain.

“Captain Bannister is an experienced master mariner who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Cal Maritime and I know that every cadet will benefit immensely from her leadership on Training Ship Golden Bear,” said Cal Maritime President Thomas A. Cropper. “She is a superb and welcome addition to our talented team of faculty and staff, who represent the diverse range of dedicated professionals who make our national maritime industry successful.”

The Golden Bear (TSGB) serves as the primary training platform on which academy cadets apply technological skills introduced in the classroom and leadership skills acquired from their work assignments and responsibilities with the Corps of Cadets. Each summer, cadets in their first and third years sail with licensed faculty officers for two months during the annual training cruise.

A master mariner holding an unlimited master’s license, Bannister began her career on a fleet of Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull (SWATH) research vessels conducting survey operations. Soon after, she moved up to a larger fleet of vessels —the U.S. Military Sealift Command’s Watson Class large, medium speed RO/RO ships.

Bannister spent over 14 years sailing deep sea with Maersk Line Ltd and Ocean Ships Inc. in senior and junior positions. She worked in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has also served in senior positions for Joint Logistics Over the Sea (JLOTS) operations off Guatemala in 2007 and off Lynnhaven, Va. in 2008.

The last six years of Bannister’s deep-sea service were spent as Commanding Officer of the USNS Soderman. In 2014, she moved shoreside to start a family and begin a new chapter. In her off time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking and biking.

“It is with a full heart and great enthusiasm that I return to California State University Maritime Academy,” said Bannister. “When I heard the Training Ship Golden Bear was in need of a captain, my compass went true and I knew this was an incredible opportunity to give back. Cal Maritime opened doors and prepared me for a unique career of being a Merchant Mariner. My time spent and education received allowed the dreams of a small-town girl from Colorado to become a reality. I am beyond appreciative for the years spent sailing deep sea, and for the amazing mentors whose knowledge helped me solve difficulties encountered on my journeys.”


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