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Elizabeth Ann “Captain Liz” Roberts

Elizabeth “Libby” Roberts, born in 1958 in Moss Point, MS, was a trailblazer for women in the merchant marine industry. When she first began her college career, she selected nursing for her major under the advice of her father. However, Libby knew her heart belonged to the water, having grown up with the Pascagoula River in her back yard. In a time when very few women held prominent roles in the maritime industry and the centuries old culture and customs of the merchant marines, she knew her journey would begin at the bottom, but Libby would not be deterred. She began as “ordinary seaman” with Zapata Marine Corp. in Morgan City, Louisiana and over nine years moved up the ranks to master.

Over the next thirty years, Captain Liz continued serving as master for other corporations where her work brought her on many adventures in far away waters. She was featured in National Geographic in 1986 as the “first woman tugboat captain” regaling her travels down the Tombigbee Waterways. Libby captained her vessels to New York, countries on the west coast of Africa, Japan, through the Panama Canal and to Valdez, Alaska, where she assisted with the infamous oil spill cleanup.

In the midst of her seafaring career, Libby decided to explore the world of aquaculture, so began “Black Creek Aquaculture, Inc.” in her hometown of Moss Point and returned to college earning her degree in the field in 2004. In this endeavor, she raised crawfish and established an exclusive contract with a local restaurant. Libby used this time to care for her ailing mother, using the same dedication and attention to detail as she did in her role as captain, ensuring her mother’s final days were as comfortable as possible.

Captain Liz would ultimately resume her place at the helm of tug and supply vessels, while simultaneously operating the aquaculture farm which also was home to cows, goats, horses and donkeys!

Sadly, Libby passed away unexpectedly in 2021, leaving behind a host of coworkers and friends who do not hesitate in exalting her for her fairness, kindness, work ethic and ever-positive outlook. They admire her courage to face an industry that was not accustomed to women and her ability to pave the way for others with excellence and dignity. The maritime industry is forever indebted to the dedication of Captain Liz “Libby” Roberts.


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