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Cindy Martin

Chief Engineer

Algoma Central Corporation (Algoeast)
St. Catherines, Ontario
22 years in the industry

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As Chief Engineer, Cindy Martin is responsible for all the machinery and systems on the Algoeast tanker vessel. And making sure that a tanker is in tip-top shape requires the highest level of diligence.

The Algoeast, which is owned by Algoma Tankers Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Algoma Central Corporation , carries petroleum products for oil companies to and from various facilities around Lake Ontario and in the St. Lawrence Seaway. These products are used by Canadian companies to run their machinery and vehicles.

“It’s extremely safety-oriented on tankers. We don’t want any environmental issues. You have to be extra-diligent,” says 40-year-old Cindy, who has worked on tankers for 19 years. “My team and I have to make sure that all the equipment and systems are in perfect working order and pass both regular government and industry inspections. The oil majors hold twice-yearly audits of all the ships. If you don’t pass their standards, you don’t get their business.”

The nature of the cargo also means that Cindy and her engineering team of four must swing into action quickly if there are any machinery breakdowns. “Heavy fuel, for example, must be kept heated as it is transported so that it doesn’t harden; otherwise it won’t burn or pump as easily. So if a boiler breaks down, you have to fix it quickly,” she explains.

Cindy studied a three-year mechanical engineering program with an emphasis in marine engineering at the Marine Institute of Memorial University in Newfoundland. Her first job out of school was as a 4th engineer aboard a tanker owned by Imperial Oil and she transferred to Algoma Tankers when that company took over the oil major’s tanker fleet in 1998. “I grew up on the water. I knew what it was about to go on boats — but nothing as big as what I sail on nowadays,” she chuckles. “At first I thought I would become a naval architect but after the first year at university, I knew marine engineering was for me. It was a great job to get into with really good wages.”

Fast forward 22 years and Cindy is still happy with her choice. “This job is never the same. Anything can happen at any time. You have to rise to the occasion. And when you do, it’s really satisfying.”

Her job also gives her the flexibility of still living in Newfoundland, while having a career centered on working in the Great Lakes.

“I work one month on and one month off – six months in total each year,” says Cindy. “During my time off, Algoma pays for me to fly back to Newfoundland, where I live with my husband. This is a perk that you really don’t find in a lot of industries. It’s a lifestyle that really works for me.”