Meet Africa’s first female submarine officer

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 18 June 2019

Lieutenant Gillian Malouw is the first woman in our country and the first female in the whole of Africa to qualify as a submarine officer.

The twenty-eight-year old, who grew up in Port Elizabeth, joined the sea cadets in Grade 7, which taught her about the navy and marine occupations. By Grade 9 she had made up her mind to join the South African Navy when she finished school. She applied in 2008 and was accepted for the 2010 intake, allowing her to take a gap year after Matric before pursuing her dream.


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Cold, gloomy day in Simon’s Town today 😰⛴⚓ #weekendsAtWork #submarine #sanavy #womenAtSea #inMyElement #delushDiva

A post shared by Gillian Malouw (@gillian_malouw) on

Her love for the sea and the exposure she had to the navy through the sea cadets, like opportunities to board naval vessels, helped draw her towards this career where she would serve her country at sea. ‘I knew that I wanted to wear that uniform,’ she said in an interview with John Maytham on Cape Talk Radio.

She said in her first year of naval training there was a variety of presentations of career paths in the navy. When she saw the presentation about submarines, she thought it was ‘the best thing I ever saw.’

‘They described the whole process and I just thought this is a challenge that I will take on.’

According to IOL, she is proud to have accomplished what she’d set out to do. ‘For the first time in the history of our submarine service, we have a female in a leadership position and in line to command a submarine. It shows we are moving in the right direction.’

When asked if she’d like to become commander of the submarine one day she replied, ‘Of course, for any officer that is the ultimate goal… this is just the start.’


Image: Pixaby

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