Johanna grew up among the wealthy business elite on Avalon. Her father was a staff officer at Fleet Headquarters and a member of the Von Shrakenberg extended family, brother of Margarethe Ingolfsson Von Shrakenberg, the mother of Erich Von Shrakenberg. Her mother was captain of a Battlecruiser and later a Dreadnought who fought in the first and second civil wars. Family and friends in high places helped her gain early admission to the Fleet Academy and rise rapidly through the ranks.
She served aboard many ships, eventually serving as Executive Officer to her cousin Erich on both the EFS Stornoway and EFS Schaumburg. When the latter ship was laid up for repairs following the Battle of Rios, she was promoted to Commander and given command of the frigate EFS Palomino. She commanded this ship at the unsuccessful Battle of Mars and the pyrrhic victory that was the Battle of Avalon, surviving both battles against great odds.