Captain Dempsey is a woman of many firsts. She was the first woman to graduate from a US maritime or military academy, completing in 1976 the four-year program at Maine Maritime Academy in just two and a half years. She then went on to become the first American woman to hold a master mariner license. From there, she became the first woman captain of a vessel in wartime, earning the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Public Service Award for her service on the M/V Lyra during the Persian Gulf War, before becoming the first woman Columbia River bar pilot – the toughest pilotage in America.

Captain Dempsey paved a path forward for future female mariners – demonstrating traits shared by the American maritime workforce of hard work, bravery and commitment. She takes pride in having worked her way up, while earning the respect of her colleagues.

Deborah Doane Dempsey A woman of many firsts

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