Pretoria: 14 March 2017
South Africa is well positioned to play a pioneering role in the African continent’s drive for expansive growth of its ocean’s economy sector, but especially if stakeholders and key role players both in the public and private sector continue to strengthen co-operation and collaboration towards the goal.
That is according to South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting chief executive officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi in the wake of yet another highly successful collaborative effort that saw a group of Indian scientists along with 30 South African cadets complete on schedule a three-months long research and training expedition both along the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic region.
Crucially, according to Mr Sobantu, the expedition was successfully undertaken aboard the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas, this past week.
After dropping off the Indian scientists in Mauritius a few days earlier, the vessel – under the command of SAMSA – docked in Port Elizabeth on Friday, to a warm welcome by senior officials of several institutions in both the public and private sector. These included SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the Transnet National Ports Authority(TNPA), the National Skills Fund under the Department of Higher Education and Training, recently established bunker services group, Aegean; the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA, the Maritime Crew Services (MSC) and a few others.
The SA Agulhas was acquired by SAMSA in 2011 for training in support of the National Cadet Programme, which is being managed by the Port Elizabeth-based SAIMI.
The training is being funded by the National Skills Fund.
The vessel sailed on 14 December 2016 from Cape Town with 30 cadets under the guide of SAMTRA and MCS.
The group of seven (7) engineering and 23 deck cadets along with two training officers joined the South African crew on a research voyage chartered by India’s National Centre for Antarctic Research.
Her first port of call was Port Louis in Mauritius on Christmas Eve where she took on board the team of Indian scientists and five container loads of equipment. The ship sailed south from Mauritius before heading West of Kerguelen Island and on to Antarctica and back to Mauritius carrying out operations at various scientific stations along the way.
On completion of the expedition Friday, Mr Sobantu said the event was just one to possibly vindicate the brave stance taken by the maritime safety authority a few years ago to acquire the vessel with the sole intention of providing a viable yet necessary intervention in the development of a local cadre of seafarers.
More than 350 cadets have been trained aboard the SA Agulhas since 2012 after SAMSA acquired the vessel from the Department of Environmental Affairs and re-purposed the former Antarctic research and supply vessel as a training vessel to support the National Cadet Programme.
The cadet programme enables aspiring sea-farers to obtain the practical sea-time experience required to attain a Certificate of Competency (COC) as either a Deck Officer or Marine Engineering Officer. The COC is an internationally recognised qualification, issued by SAMSA in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Convention on the Standards, Training and Certification of Watch-keepers (STCW), and opens up a global sea-faring career for these young South Africans.
The programme is a skills development initiative linked to Operation Phakisa which aims to grow South Africa’s participation in the maritime economy. The initiative is managed by SAIMI and financed by the National Skills Fund.
On Friday Mr Tilayi noted that: “The three-month cruise took the vessel and the cadets all the way down to 68 degrees south where they encountered severe weather. Both the vessel and the cadets passed with flying colours.”
Key to the success, he said, was ongoing cooperation and collaboration among a group of stakeholders, interested parties and the investment community. For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (video), Click Here
Meanwhile, SAIMI chief executive officer, Dr Malek Pourzanjani was also full of praise of the success of the SA Agulhas’ latest venture into a research and training expedition.
“The fact that the Indian government was willing to entrust leading scientists and important multi-disciplinary scientific research to a South African training vessel crewed by South Africans is a tribute to the quality of our mariners and the training offered in South Africa,” Dr Pourzanjani. For his full remarks, Click Here
Ms Phyllis Difeto, chief operations officer of TNPA was in agreement with her counterparts at SAMSA and SAIMI: “South Africa needs more world class maritime expertise at all levels,” she said, also stressing the need for
ongoing collaboration between TNPA, SAMSA, SAIMI and the private sector to ensure that South African mariners received world class training that would position them well for seafarer work around the globe.
For Ms Difeto’s full remarks, Click Here.
Meanwhile, the cadets on the expedition were full excitement, sharing their experiences as well as hopes for the future as seafarers. Two of the cadets, Afrika Masuku and Sandisiwe Ngcobo spoke briefly before their welcoming audience on Friday, thanking both their trainers and training sponsors for the opportunity. In separate interviews, five other cadets opened up about their experiences as did one of their trainers. For these interviews Click Here.