Nautical buffs, professional mariners, maritime historians andanyone with a nostalgic streak were saddened — and perhaps a little outraged — at the announcement by Lloyd’s that the company would discontinue the use of the pronoun “she” in its publication Lloyd’s List, when describing a vessel of any kind. The company, founded in 1734, is considered the keeper of many august maritime traditions, particularly for those of us in the maritime publications business. That the company’s president salted the wound further by stating callously that vessels were simply commodities didn’t help people accept the new terminology.
For our part, Ocean Navigator has seldom used the feminine pronoun when describing a vessel. A vessel will remain “it” in print, if not in speech, mostly because for a publication to authoritatively describe a vessel as she requires the sort of tradition-bound prestige that Lloyd’s enjoyed — at least at one time. Still, one can’t help feeling a sense of loss at any deep-seeded tradition, particularly in such an ancient culture as seafaring.