The first two female marine cadets in the Pilbara are ready to set sail and take the first steps in a career in the maritime industry. Katelyn Arnold and Jeri Ingleton joined the Pilbara Ports Authority’s marine cadetship program in March and will complete a maritime operations (watchkeeper deck) diploma over the next three years. The program was established by the PPA in 2018 to give cadets a blend of shore-based learning and on-board training and develop local talent. The two 18-year-olds will spend six months at sea on board a Rio Tinto-owned vessel from December. Ms Ingleton said she always loved the ocean and was interested in seeing the process of shipping ore. “Not many people get to see where container ships go,” she said. “We take things for granted but don’'t actually see what goes on behind the scenes.” Ms Arnold said they would sale from Karratha to China. “Growing up here obviously has contributed to my decision on getting a job in the marine industry,” she said. “The six months will be very, very challenging but the ending is a very big achievement.” Both Ms Arnold and Ms Ingleton want to become masters and go on to pilotage. “It takes about 10 years to get to a master and then do your pilotage coursing and learning,” Ms Ingleton said. Pilbara Ports Authority chief executive Roger Johnston said PPA was the first in Australia to offer a marine cadetship program which gave school leavers experience on international trade routes. Mr Johnston said the decrease in Australian-registered ships meant it was increasingly difficult for young people to secure the time at sea needed to earn marine qualifications. “We are working with Rio Tinto to offer Katelyn and Jeri the unique opportunity to gain international sea experience and qualifications, with cadets the future leaders of our industry,” he said. Rio Tinto commercial chief operating officer Ashley Howard said it was important to develop young maritime professionals. There are five marine cadets enrolled in the program, with another two expected to start early next year.