California State University Maritime Academy has appointed Samaro Bannister-Schneider to serve as interim captain of Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB). Captain Bannister will serve as Cal Maritime’s first female TSGB captain and is a proud Cal Maritime alumna who brings with her an extensive career in marine transportation.
“Captain Bannister is an experienced master mariner who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Cal Maritime and I know that every cadet will benefit immensely from her leadership on Training Ship Golden Bear,” said Cal Maritime President Thomas A. Cropper. “She is a superb and welcome addition to our talented team of faculty and staff, who represent the diverse range of dedicated professionals who make our national maritime industry successful.”
The Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB) serves as the primary training platform on which cadets apply technological skills introduced in the classroom and leadership skills acquired from their work assignments and responsibilities with the Corps of Cadets. Each summer, cadets in their first and third years depart with licensed faculty officers for two months during the annual Training Cruise. During these periods at sea, intellectual learning, applied technology, and leadership development blend daily as cadets apply what they have learned in the classroom, in the lab, in the Corps, and on the waterfront.
Captain Bannister is a 2000 graduate of Cal Maritime’s Marine Transportation (MT) program. She began her career on a fleet of Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull (SWATH) research vessels conducting survey operations. Soon after, she moved up to a larger fleet of vessels, the Watson Class LMSR RO-RO’s where she found her home. Captain Bannister spent over 14 years sailing the deep sea with Maersk Line Ltd and Ocean Ships Inc. in senior and junior positions. She worked in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She has also served in senior positions for Joint Logistics Over the Sea (JLOTS) off Guatemala in 2007 and off Lynnhaven, Va. in 2008. She is a master mariner who holds an unlimited master's license, the highest grade of seafarer qualification. The last six years of Captain Bannister’s deep-sea service were spent as Commanding Officer of the USNS Soderman. In 2014, she moved shoreside to start a family and begin a new chapter. In her off time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking and biking.
“It is with a full heart and great enthusiasm that I return to California State University Maritime Academy,” said Captain Bannister. “When I heard the Training Ship Golden Bear was in need of a captain, my compass went true and I knew this was an incredible opportunity to give back. Cal Maritime opened doors and prepared me for a unique career of being a Merchant Mariner. My time spent and education received allowed the dreams of a small-town girl from Colorado to become a reality. I am beyond appreciative for the years spent sailing deep sea, and for the amazing mentors whose knowledge helped me solve difficulties encountered on my journeys. I am appreciative of my recent time teaching at Training Resources Maritime Institute. I am especially grateful for my husband Jack and daughter Madeline who will be joining me and for my parents, Jim and Kent Milski whose sense of adventure and unwavering support were the catalyst for my career. I look forward to leading the next generation of Merchant Mariners into this exciting field. I am thrilled to be the new Captain of the TSGB and look forward to meeting you all.”
ABOUT CAL MARITIME
Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.