Accessibility.SkipToMainContent
Members at work

Deck officer and harbour operator Dawn Franklyn hopes to see more action on improving seafarers' mental health

12 April 2021

Nautilus Champion Dawn Franklyn is an STCW-qualified deck officer who has recently been working as a harbour operator and as a wellbeing mentor for young people onboard large sail vessels. She has now taken a break to focus on her studies in maritime environmental management.

Do you have any personal or family connections to the sea or inland waterways?

I have plenty of sea connections! My father was a chief petty officer in the Royal Navy and came from the Shrubsall family of barge builders in the Medway. His parents ran the chandlers in historic Blue Town serving the port of Sheerness. My mother was a Royal Navy radio officer, my brother was also in the RN, and my sister worked on cruise liners.

What did you do in your career before joining the maritime sector?

I worked in and ran an upholstery business with a workshop and retail outlet for 15 years. I also volunteered supporting homeless/displaced young people.

What does your current job involve?

I am currently studying with Lloyd's Maritime Academy and am very interested in how environmental management will affect the industry and shape the future for shipping. I'm also doing freelance relief crew work following full time work at Sheerness Docks as coxswain.

Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and career challenges

The main career highlight to date must be my academic achievement, OOW Deck Unlimited CoC, with the full support and encouragement of the welfare officer at the Marine Society.

A big challenge is trying to turn the tide on old work cultures that continue to affect mental health and wellbeing throughout the maritime industry. There are a lot of well-meaning words out there but we need to see policies put into action.

How long have you been a member of Nautilus, and why is the Union important to you?

I have been a member of Nautilus since 2016, after being advised to join while working on an MOD crew training vessel.

I have attended union conferences and forums in London and Rotterdam on various occasions, contributing to motions and speaking on mental health and women's issues.

The support a union can provide is very important to me. My brother suffered a severe mental breakdown and has been medicated for 40 years ‘post-Navy’. I have also lost two dear seafaring friends to suicide and stood by two bodies whilst at sea before intervention by coastal services.

Drug and alcohol ‘self-medication’ should be a thing of the past, but without support, individuals are still sailing dangerously close to the wind. I would encourage everyone to join the Union because it means there's someone to help if they feel overwhelmed or powerless – it is another tool in the box if a crisis arises.

What is your favourite place you have visited during your career?

My exchange with an Indian seafaring family was the most extraordinary thing I have done. My exchange student learnt engineless sailing around the Thames Estuary after five years deepsea, and I went to India to learn more about the culture and religion, joining a Hindu pilgrimage to Uttar Pradesh. It wasn't like my usual favourite holiday, which is skiing, but I learnt so much.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love playing Scrabble. It makes me laugh when l think of a really good word with loads of points, and it’s on a triple! I also love walking my daughter's dog on our local beach.

What's your favourite podcast?

Joe Rogan is my favourite podcaster – such a variety and wealth of interest.

What is your favourite film?

My favourite film is ‘As Good As It Gets’ with Jack Nicholson... You've just got to watch it if you haven’t already. So many truths, but always hope.

Callout Image

Become a Nautilus Champion

Nautilus looking for members who can volunteer their time for the Union's campaigns, media outreach and recruitment initiatives. You can help breathe life into these programmes, bring a more diverse and representative voice to the Union, and ultimately help us create greater awareness of the maritime industry among the public.

Register your interest Meet more Champions

Tags

More articles

Members at work

Chief engineer Tenyon Latter says there is a vessel out there for everyone interested in maritime engineering

  • Telegraph
  • 22 July 2020
Members at work

Yacht deck officer James Sherwood enjoys speaking the 'global language' of the sea

  • Telegraph
  • 17 July 2020
Members at work

Cruiseship deck cadet Gareth Hampton recalls the thrill of taking the wheel for the first time

  • Telegraph
  • 20 July 2020
Members at work

Machinery at sea was made for third engineer Harley Vardakis

  • Telegraph
  • 20 July 2020
Members at work

Third Officer Ross Cleland maxes his professional development

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Engineer Pavol Belina can feel like a glorified plumber while visiting paradise

  • Telegraph
  • 15 May 2020
Members at work

Deck Officer cadet Thomas Rapley follows in his grandfather's footsteps

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Cruise ship Safety Officer Martel Fursdon juggles a busy schedule of port calls

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Petra van den Corput thrives on deck with hard work and responsibility

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Captain Stephen Gudgeon has spent forty years at sea and still revels in the magic of crossing the Panama Canal

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Ex-Royal Naval officer Thomas Stapley-Bunten starts a second career in the Merchant Navy

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Tug AB Emily Reeves feel grateful to have a job and no student debt

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Acting chief stewardess Sofiia Skorokhod steps up during the pandemic

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Fascinated by the sea, Jamie Edwards finds lasting friendships and a camaraderie onboard unmatched elsewhere

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020
Members at work

Cadet David Pirie is speeding through his bucket list

  • Telegraph
  • 14 May 2020

Become a Nautilus member today