Crew Feature: Deck Cadet De'Vante Stewart

5th Sep 2023

The fast ferry journey between the twin Caribbean islands Trinidad and Tobago is 3 hours long.

Setting off from the bustling Port of Spain in Trinidad, the catamaran sails close to the lush coastline, before weaving through the Bocas Del Dragon (Dragon’s Mouths) Straits then turning northeast to Tobago across the Caribbean Sea.

Deck Cadet De’Vante Stewart spent much of his youth travelling the route to visit family, and it was on these voyages his curiosity for a career at sea began to grow.

“I grew up in San Fernando which is a vibrant and culturally rich city located in the southern part of Trinidad, the larger of the two main islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

“I also spent a lot of time in Patience Hill, Tobago which is where my father grew up. So, for me it has always been back and forth during vacations and breaks from school.

“The smooth gliding motion of the catamaran, combined with the breath-taking views of the sea and islands, created a sense of serenity and adventure. 

“My siblings and I would always stand outside the aft of the vessel where I found solace in listening to the sound of the waves and the fresh ocean breeze on my face.”

Fast forward to present day and that curiosity has led to the first steps in a maritime career with De’Vante currently undergoing his cadetship with the University of Trinidad and Tobago, vessel owner Proman Stena Bulk and Northern Marine.

His recently completed tour on the methanol-powered Stena Promise was an inspirational opportunity for De’Vante as he learned from an international team of experienced colleagues all working at the forefront of alternative fuels in tanker shipping.

He said: “My time as a deck cadet has been an incredible learning experience. Working alongside seasoned professionals in the maritime industry, I've gained valuable hands-on experience in maintaining and operating various deck equipment and navigational instruments.

“First and foremost, I have learned the importance of safety protocols and adherence to strict regulations in the maritime industry.

“My colleagues have instilled in me a deep sense of responsibility for the environment and the need for careful handling of cargo.”

A vessel born from the joint venture between Proman and Stena Bulk, the Stena Promise is managed by Northern Marine.

All four vessels in the IMOIIMeMax series have demonstrated an unprecedentedly low EEDI (Energy Efficiency Design Index) value while running on methanol.

Proman are an integrated energy company and the world’s second largest methanol producer with Trinidad and Tobago an important hub for methanol and fertilizer production.

Having grown up close to Proman’s Trinidad industrial estate, De’Vante is aware of its significance to the local economy and its world-leading contribution to methanol-fueled shipping.

De’Vante added: “I couldn't be prouder of my country's remarkable advancement in methanol production and fuelling, and I am filled with immense pride to be part of the company driving this progress.

“Successful methanol advancement brings global recognition to the country.

“It showcases the nation's commitment to sustainable development and with Methanol producing decreased greenhouse gas and carbon emissions in comparison to conventional fuel, its use can reduce air pollution, combating climate change, and I feel a deep sense of fulfilment, knowing that our efforts are contributing to a greener and more environmentally conscious future.”

Currently at home in Trinidad, De’Vante’s short term goal is to complete his studies and exams to obtain a UK OOW unlimited ticket, with the support and encouragement of his family.

He added: “None of my predecessors had a maritime background. I am the first in my family to go to sea or pursue a maritime career and my loved ones couldn't be prouder of my decision to study navigation.

“In every step I take towards achieving my goal I feel incredibly fortunate to have loved ones supporting and cheering me on as I pursue my aspirations.

“This positive response from my loved ones to my chosen career path has been a source of motivation for me.

“I am committed to putting in the necessary effort and time to hone my navigational expertise and continue to advance in my career and I am confident that I will achieve my goal of becoming a captain as quickly as possible, without compromising on the integrity and excellence that define this esteemed position.”

As one of 14 siblings, De’Vante grew up understanding teamwork more than most.

He said: “I would generally describe my childhood experience as being a part of a large team.

“Both teamwork and competitiveness were involved as most of us were a part of sports teams and fuelled each other’s ambitions.

“Growing up with a lot of siblings has also shaped me into a person who values family bonds, cherishes shared moments, and appreciates the gift of having a built-in support system that will last a lifetime.

“To anyone aspiring to pursue a career at sea in the future, my advice is simple: embrace the journey with passion and perseverance. Stay curious and never stop learning, as the maritime industry is constantly evolving.

“Remember that teamwork and effective communication are key to success in this field.”