Computer virus infection leads to disruption and delay in issuance of seafarers’ certificates: SAMSA

Pretoria: 18 May 2021

A computer virus found to have infected computer systems at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will lead to delays of up to six weeks in the issuance of seafarers’ certificates, the country’s maritime agency under the Department of Transport announced in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The announcement in the form of a Marine Notice (MIN 05-21), published in SAMSA’s website on Tuesday morning revealed that: “SAMSA was exposed to a computer virus in April 2021, necessitating SAMSA to implement precautionary measures by disconnecting its network servers to prevent the virus from infecting all systems. SAMSA’s ICT department is conducting a full health assessment on all servers, operating software and hardware.

“At this point, no personal data was compromised, and SAMSA is continuing to investigate the incident in collaboration with law enforcement agencies.

According to SAMSA in the statement, while some services rendered by the agency to the country’s maritime economic sector were not affected bythe computer virus infection incident, such as vessels surveys; the agency’s Seafarer Certification Software System (SIOMS 2.) “was affected by the database restore(ation) which caused some unexpected technical difficulties. SAMSA is working towards resolving this technical failure as soon as possible.”

Due to the challenge related to systems restoration, SAMSA said: “Seafarers should expect delays in the issuing of any seafarer verifications, documentation and certificates of competence while the system is being repaired. Once the system is fully operational, seafarers (will) continue to experience delays with all certification related services for approximately 4-6 weeks while SAMSA implements extra-ordinary measures to clear the backlog and implement measures to improve services.

This notwithstanding, SAMSA urged seafarers and or affected people to continue engaging with it through its offices along the South African coastline in order to ensure that services and assistance needed are provided where possible.

“Seafarers intending to revalidate their certificates may continue to apply to do so at their local SAMSA office. Seafarers may continue to apply for Level 3 assessments (orals) leading to a higher qualification. Any interim certificatesfor Small Vessel Skippers Certificates of Competence that have expired in the last 3 months or any Small Vessel Certificate of Competence expiring within the next 4 weeks, may be extended up and until 31 August 2021 while SAMSA’s certification unit clears the backlog.

“In the event of certification related issues, seafarers currently serving on foreign going vessels should provide full details of the assistance needed and should submit a request to and in the event of any seafarer welfare challenges resulting from this delay, seafarers can contact:

SAMSA extended an apology for the disruption to services: “SAMSA apologizes for this temporary inconvenience and assures all stakeholders that the technical issues are being addressed with utmost urgency.”


2 thoughts on “Computer virus infection leads to disruption and delay in issuance of seafarers’ certificates: SAMSA

  1. 4 to 6 week delay? How does it explain Seafarers waiting so much longer already? Cape Town has candidates that has been waiting up to 6 month. I personally have handed in end of January 2021 and am still waiting.
    I am sorry gentlen, this sounds like an excuse for a much larger problem at SAMSA. This issue has been going for months and to now simply putting it out to a computer virus?
    When I followed up on the prolonged wait on my GOC it was put down to a delay and a problem at the go erment printing works….

    I would love to see what is the reason / cause of the delay in another 2 months time. Who is going to cover my salary when I loose my job – SAMSA Welfare??
    We are already facing issues with various flag states not being willing to issue flag endorsements on temp SAMSA certification even in the event of attaching a SAMSA verification letter to the temp document.

    I honoustly believe the South African Seafarer deserves better service than this.
    Maybe all SAMSA salaries should be delayed until they are on top of this issue, maybe you should face the same woes and stress as the seafarers, maybe then there will be understanding as to why this is simply not good enough.

    1. Dear Mr Cawood. The blog’s editorial team has taken note of your correspondence here, which we thank you for. Further, we just wish to advise that we are forwarding the correspondence to both the Seafarers Centre as well as Seafarers’ Welfare Office. We hope and trust you will hear from them soon.
      Again, thank you for sharing your views and experience. As the editorial team, we take them seriously.

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