February 26, 1908 at a small station Ocean near Vladivostok in the family of the switchman Ivan Shchetinin a girl was born, named at the baptism of Anna. Who would then know that, over time, her name with respect will be uttered by gray-haired “sea wolves” from various countries of the world, and it will even appear on nautical charts. The times were hard and hungry, the family had to move more than once, until in the early 20s they settled at Sedanka station (today it is a near suburb, 7 km from Vladivostok).
The sea has entered the life of a girl since childhood, because wherever the family lived, it was near. When Anna graduated from school in 1925, she had no doubts about the choice of profession. The girl managed to enter the navigation department of the Vladivostok Marine Technical School. Already in the years of study, she began to sail on ships, first as a student, and then as a sailor.
In 1929, Anna graduated from the technical school and received a referral to the Kamchatka Shipping Company, where she had traveled from a sailor to a sea captain in five or a few years - a career in those times unprecedented. It is difficult to say if there were not enough personnel or they trusted the young people to such an extent, but Anna Shchetinina went to Hamburg after her first ship, from where she had to take the ship Chavitch to Kamchatka.
One can imagine how the faces of the Hamburg shipbuilders stretched, when a woman arrived at the ship, who had not yet turned thirty. It was then that the foreign press began to write about it actively, after all the event attracted a full-fledged sensation - a very young woman became the captain of the long voyage of the Soviets. Newspapers even her route to Kamchatka along the Northern Sea Route were not too lazy to track, but were disappointed - the steamer arrived at the port of registry on time and without any incidents. Serious accidents on her captain's age, and he was long, still enough, but they are ahead.
The first years, Anna had to make flights in the Sea of Okhotsk, "famous" for its storms and deceit. Already in February 1936, the sea tested the strength of the young captain. The ship "Chinook" was jammed with ice, and for 11 days the crew fought to save it. All this time, Captain Schetinin did not leave the bridge, leading the crew and choosing the moment to escape from the ice captivity. The steamer was saved and almost did not receive damage.
1936 was marked for Anna Ivanovna Schetinina by another significant event - she received her first state award, she was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. Agree that in 29 years to become not only a sea captain, but also an order bearer, it was also very rare for men in those years. “Captain Anna”, as her man’s colleagues began to magnify her, not only demonstrated the highest professionalism, but also gained the respect of experienced captains, and this is not easy as that.
In 1938 Shchetininu was appointed head of the fishing port. The position is responsible, but coastal, and Anna was not going to sit on the shore. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I went to the Baltic and entered the Navigation Department of the Leningrad Institute of Water Transport, where I completed 4 courses in two and a half years. Continue to study prevented the war.
In the most difficult conditions of the first months of the war, Anna Shchetinina on the steamer “Saule” made truly “fiery” flights, carrying various cargoes and troops, participated in the evacuation of Tallinn. That time was stingy with rewards, but the captain Schetinin was considered worthy of the combat order of the Red Star. The submission read "For the exemplary accomplishment of the assignment of the government and military command and the shown courage in operations in the Baltic."
In the fall of 1941, Shchetinina returned to the Far East, where during the war she commanded various ships, carrying cargo, including Lend-Lease. Not once went to America and Canada, where she was always very warmly welcomed. During the next voyage, while loading was in progress, she was invited on an excursion to Hollywood, where they not only showed the “dream factory”, but also presented an original gift - a personal record with the “International” performed by Russian emigrants, issued in a single copy by the company “Columbia” .
In 1945, Anna Ivanovna had to take part in a combat operation, landing troops on Sakhalin. After the war I returned to the Baltic, I had to graduate. But I was not able to start studying right away. Prior to that, I had to give orders to several ships of the Baltic Shipping Company and even become a participant in a serious incident - I boarded the reefs on the Dmitri Mendeleev steamer. The fog is not an excuse for the captain, so Shchetinin was punished, although in a peculiar way — they were sent to command the Baskunchak logging truck for a year.
Continuing to go on ships, Shchetinina resumed her studies at the Leningrad Higher Marine Engineering School, where she graduated in absentia from the 5th year of the Navigation Faculty. In 1949, even before passing the state examinations, Anna Ivanovna was offered to go to school for teaching, because her experience in navigation was simply unique. Until 1960, A. I. Schetinina worked at LVIMU, was a senior lecturer, dean of the navigational faculty, and head of the department.
Since 1960, Shchetinina has been teaching future seamen at the Vladivostok Higher Marine Engineering School. It is curious that even becoming a teacher, Anna Ivanovna did not leave the captain’s bridge. In the summer, she went on board the ships of the Baltic or Far Eastern Shipping Company (she even made the round-the-clock tour of Okhotsk) or led the practice of the cadets.
1978 Anna Ivanovna Schetinina was awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor. By the way, they assigned it from the second attempt, the first performance was in 1968 (to the 60th anniversary), but then something did not work out.
The sea captain Anna Shchetinina also had a personal life, although not very happy. Back in 1928, she married Nikolai Kachimov, who was then a radio operator on fishing vessels. Subsequently, he headed the Vladivostok Radio Service for the fishery industry. In 1938 he was arrested, but he was rehabilitated a year later. Before the war he worked in Moscow in the Radio Center Narkomrybproma. In 1941 he went to the front, served on the Ladoga military flotilla. Nikolai Filippovich died in 1950. There were no children in the family.
Anna Ivanovna devoted much time to social work, was a member of the Soviet Women’s Committee, a member of the Writers' Union (she wrote two interesting books about the navy and seamen), since 1963 she headed the Primorsky Branch of the Geographical Society of the USSR.
Anna Ivanovna Schetinina died on September 25, 1999 and was buried in the Sea Cemetery of the city of Vladivostok. In memory of the first woman sea captain, her name was given to a cape in the Sea of Japan. On the buildings of the school she graduated from, and the schools where she taught, memorial plaques were installed. But the main monument to the legendary captain was the grateful memory of thousands of sailors, whom she led into the ocean expanses.