Mpumalanga to host South Africa’s 2018 celebration of the World Maritime Day

PrintPretoria: 14 July 2018

South Africa’s claim to being a maritime country and upon whose 3200km long shoreline rests only four of its nine provinces – the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal – does not imply exclusion of the internal provinces from the country’s broad maritime sector activities.

For this and related reasons, this year’s celebration of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) driven World Maritime Day on 27 September 2018 has been officially confirmed as scheduled for Mpumalanga – one of South Africa’s five internal provinces, this one bordering two neighboring countries; Swaziland and Mozambique.

Formal confirmation of Mpumalanga’s official host status for this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations was made by Transport Minister, Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande in Britain recently.

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Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande. Minister of Transport

Addressing the IMO Council’s 120th Session in London held from the 02-06 July, Dr Nzimande said observation annually of the World Maritime Day by South Africa was consistent with the country’s full commitment to and unwavering support for the IMO’s activities in the promotion of maritime economies development across the world.

“We are very proud to be members of this organization and we are honoured to have served the IMO Council in the role of Vice Chair for an extended period. Our service to Council is well documented.

“My presence here represents a statement of renewal of our commitment to the IMO and I can assure you that my country and my people are highly impressed and honour many women and men who have contributed to the 70 years’ history of the IMO,” he said.

Consistent with this, Dr Nzimande noted that the IMO’s theme for this year’s celebration would be focused on the United Nations (UN) agency’s 70 year annivessary and committed that South Africa would follow suite.

“As part of South Africa’s commitment with the IMO, South Africa will host World Maritime Day 27-28 September 2018 in Mpumalanga Province.  The event will be held for two days under the theme; “IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future.

“During the celebration South Africa will make a career exhibition to showcase careers in the maritime sector to the young South Africans with the aim to introduce more leaners to the careers available in the maritime sector and also to showcase the milestone of the maritime sector to the rest of the local communities,” he confirmed.

Meanwhile, Dr Nzimande also outlined South Africa’s progress with revision of some of its maritime sector legislation, but precisely the Merchant Shipping Act of 1951.

He said: “Mr Chair, my country has recently adopted its Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP). Following the adoption of the CMTP, we are now in the process of realigning our domestic legislation in line with the CMTP and in this regard, we have made great progress in reviewing the Merchant Shipping Act of 1951.

“The Maritime Transport Strategy (MTS) is being finalised.”

Dr Nzimande said further that: “Mr Chair I am reporting on these matters firstly as a way of sharing information on the progress we have made in addressing some of the fundamentals of being a maritime nation but secondly to say that we are open to sharing our experiences through the technical cooperation programme of the organization (IMO).

Dr Nzimande also confirmed South Africa’s new approach to observing the international Day of the Seafarer as had occurred last month, where the event was staged in three of South Africa’s  major coastal cities simultaneously for the first time in the eight year history of the event.

He said: “Mr Chair like many other Member States of the IMO, South Africa celebrated on 25 June 2018, the Day of the Seafarer. This year we launched Seafarer Dialogue Platforms (SDPs) in three cities, i.e. Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. I have declared that Seafarers’ Dialogue Platforms will become the feature of the future celebrations of the Day of the Seafarer.”

During the address of the IMO Council session, Dr Nzimande also formally confirmed South Africa’s deposit of the instrument of accession to (formal ratification of) the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, 1995 (STCW-F 1995) with the Secretary-General of the IMO.

Summarily, the STCW-F 1995 is an agreement binding on IMO Member States to “undertake to promulgate all laws, decrees, orders and regulations and to take all other steps which may be necessary to give the Convention full and complete effect, so as to ensure that, from the point of view of safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment, seagoing fishing vessel personnel are qualified and fit for their duties.”

Dr Nzimande described South Africa’s submission of its ratification of the convention as signifying the country’s “commitment to bettering the lives of fishing folks.”

Following to this in Cape Town on Wednesday this past week, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) that is responsible for ensuring implementation of the convention held a 6th session of a Fishing Indaba to share the development with domestic stakeholders.

In London, with the formal announcement, Dr Nzimande also urged IMO Member States who had not yet ratified the Cape Town Agreement on the implementation of the Torremolinos Convention to “do the right thing as immediate as possible.”

“In conclusion, permit me Mr Chair to thank the IMO for putting its trust on South Africa by allowing us to host the 2020 IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event. We are exactly 791 days from today to October 2020 when we will welcome many of you to witness the progress we would have made by that time.

“This being the Centenary of two of our liberation heroes, Mr Nelson Mandela and Mrs Albertina Sisulu, let us lead by the example they left for us by being steadfast in our search for solutions to challenges facing shipping today,” he said

See also: Maritime World University post graduate qualifications get South Africa’s nod: Dr Nzimande confirms.  

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Seafarers’ world due for a significant shakeup in South Africa: Department of Transport

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Some of South Africa’s growing cadre of seafarers, young and old, gathered on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas in Cape Town on Monday to observe the international Day of the Seafarer – one three venues in the country where the event was held in three cities simultaneously for the first time. The other venues were Durban and Port Elizabeth. In Cape Town, the event was marked by two distinct activities; while officials from government, industry, education representatives and related held a dialogue behind closed doors, the seafarers took time to have a cake as well as a braai.

Cape Town: 26 June 2018

The seafarers career in South Africa is bound for a major shakeup in the coming months involving three major aspects: a re-look at the status of their qualifications for proper positioning, an overhaul of the process of their intake into the career path, as well as expansion of employment opportunities – the latter expected to involve the establishment of a South African fleet of vessels to do port to port shipments.

The policy shifts by government, driven by the Department of Transport in collaboration with the maritime sector and various others, emerged during observation of the international Day of the Seafarer held in Cape Town on Monday – one of three similar events held also in Port Elizabeth and Durban.

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In dialogue: (From Left) Mr Leon Mouton of the Sea Safety Training Group, Mr Rob Whitehead
President – The Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Department of Maritime Studies and Mr Dumisani Ntuli, acting Chief Director General: Maritime at the Department of Transport during discussions of seafarers well-being related issues during observation of the international Day of the Seafarers in Cape Town on Monday.

It was the first time for South Africa to observe the annual seafarers’ event at three locations simultaneously on the same day at three venues – the other two being Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Participants at all three events included government and its agencies including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), higher education and training institutions, industry representatives as well as seafarers, among others.

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Mr Dumisani Ntuli. Acting Chief Director General: Maritime; Department of Transport

In Cape Town, Department of Transport acting Chief Director General for Maritime, Mr Dumisani Ntuli said a policy revision was currently underway to shakeup the country’s maritime sector but specifically shipping, with a view to facilitating the establishment of a domestic fleet of vessels to take over port-to-port shipping transport.

Primarily, this was to ensure greater participation of South Africa in the shipping sector involving its own people, but equally important, to create a stable and expanded opportunity for ongoing,  sustainable development of a professional cadre of South African seafarers immersed in an own culture.

However, Mr Ntuli also acknowledged an urgent need currently to both address the issue of already qualified seafarers and whose qualifications as well as related experience do not enjoy recognition by the country’s education system in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority.

He said a task team involving appropriate representations from relevant stakeholders would be set up to fast-track the process.

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Mr Dumisani Ntuli with some of the seafarers that attended South Africa’s observation of the Day of the Seafarers 2018 in Cape Town on Monday.

In tandem, the quality of young people entering the profession would also require a re-evaluation as it was being established that some, if not a significant number of people pursuing seafaring for a career were either ill-prepared or simply not suitable for the type of work.

Currently, it emerged, there was a high drop out rate of maritime sector education students by especially cadets, once they get employed fully at sea.

According to Mr Ntuli, the main goal of all the initiatives was to ensure a stable career path for seafarers and that they are absorbed into the shipping transport industry and remain employed for their working lifetime.

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Having fun: Some of the aspirant seafarers currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas at the Cape Sun hotel in Cape Town on Monday for the observation of the international Day of the Seafarer 201 event – one of three held in the South Africa’s major coastal cities for the first time this year since inception of the Day of the Seafarer by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) eight years ago.

With regards the observation of the Day of the Seafarer annually, he said the new format involving the staging of the event in cities across the country’s coastline would remain the feature, primarily to ensure engagement of all stakeholders for a continuous dialogue on matters affecting the sector.

For a detailed presentation of Mr Ntuli’s remarks on this and related matters, Click on the video below.

A full round up of the various participants’ contributions to the discussion at the Cape Town event on Monday will follow soon.

Among the key participants were Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer in maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Rob Whitehead, president of the Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Mr Leon Mouton of the Safety Training Group, Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, as well industry and seafarer representatives.

 

Meanwhile, dozens of young and aspirant seafarers attending the event were all enthusiastic about the prospects of their careers given the increasing attention that was now being given to their well-being going into the future.

Among these were Ms Lelethu Ntuzula and Mr Sanele Hlongwane, both in their 20’s – one a deck cadet and the other currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas – an initiative of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) together with the TETA, that began three weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.

To hear their views, click on the video below.

Still in Cape Town, about two kilometers or so from the Cape Sun venue of the Cape Town leg of the Day of the Seafarers observation, at the Cape Town harbour, dozens of seafarers, young and old, on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the St Agulhas, had a cake and a braai, to mark the day, and fun was had by all.

In the other two coastal cities where the event was held, similar sentiment and merriment emerged.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA reiterated the authority’s openness to seafarers and informed those gathered that the overall wellbeing of seafarers was their priority.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. COO: SAMSA

Seafarers had to prepare themselves for the challenges associated with working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment, he said.

Some seafarers gathered in Durban asserted that one of the challenges they faced at sea was being perceived as ill-disciplined when they raised labour-related issues with their superiors on-board.

Mr Tilayi said: “It is important for our seafarers to understand that it is the Merchant Shipping Act, rather than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which governs the labour rights of seafarers.”

He encouraged seafarers to view the maritime industry in its global context, and consider the norms and standards established in the companies in which they worked.

“We encourage all our seafarers to understand the complexities of the industry they serve,” Mr Tilayi said.

In summary the DoT and SAMSA said the maritime industry had the potential to address the high unemployment rate, and a plan of action was necessary to include the following interventions:

  • Adopt South African models and knowledge to solve the country’s unemployment rate.
  • Develop and own a South African shipping fleet for economic growth.
  • Develop a seafarers’ culture and create employment opportunities for qualified South African seafarers.
  • Develop a career path plan.
  • Build the fishing industry to accommodate SA seafarers.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the SA Agulhas to use it as a training vessel for South African seafarers.
  • Integrate technological advancements in the industry.

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Day of the Seafarer, Monday June 25. Giving recognition where it’s due, seafarers: DoT

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Cape Town: 24 June 2018

The eyes of the maritime sector globally turn their focus on Monday onto the role of one of the most critical key role players in the field, seafarers – upon whose shoulders the movement of ships of all sizes as well as safety of global goods trade rests.

It is observance internationally of the Day of the Seafarer (DosT) in South Africa for the first time, the event led by the Department of Transport (DoT), with assistance by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will be marked simultaneously in the three coastal cities of  Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, beginning from about 9am.

Participants are expected to include several role players in the country’s maritime sector inclusive of government agencies, shipping and related company representatives,  higher education and related institutions, seafarers and others.

And central to the events, in addition to messages both by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Department of Transport, will be a round-table session (Duban) and panel discussions (Port Elizabeth and Cape Town) on matters affecting seafarers.

(For a preview of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga’s full message for DosT pre-recorded earlier, and for that of the IMO, Click on the videos below)

According to the DoT, for this reason, the South African Day of the Seafarer event will have as its supportive domestic theme: “A Dialogue with the South African Seafarer on the Day of the Seafarer.”

Reflecting on how the annual observation of the seafarers day came about eight years ago, the department says the IMO designated 25 June as the international Day of the Seafarer “as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.

“International shipping transports more than 90 percent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world and about 20 million containers are traveling across the oceans every day.

“Driven by the IMO together with partner countries including South Africa, this year’s Seafarers Day celebration theme is “seafarers’ well-being”. IMO asserts that the year 2017 and 2018 have seen strong momentum in the industry to address seafarer’s well-being, particularly their mental health.” says the DoT

Also noting that “South Africa, as a member of IMO has traditionally supported and participated in the Seafarers Day celebration,” the department says the country’s approach this year to include a stakeholder dialogue as part of the observation is intended to ensure that seafarers are not just celebrated, but also given opportunity to share their owns views about matters that impact their profession.

“The Department of Transport wants to create a platform to engage with seafarers in order to better understand the challenges they are facing and together to develop responses to the identified challenges. The purpose of participation is to create awareness about the role of seafarers and to inculcate the seafaring culture and excellence in South Africa.

“The IMO encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies, ship owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully,” it says.

Monday’s observation of the Day of the Seafarer in South Africa in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban will then have its main goals; the initiation of a dialogue with the country’s seafarers, with the intention to find possible solutions on how to tackle challenges they may be faced with, but also provide ideas and projects to improve seafarers prospects for placement on ships worldwide and related opportunities, says the DoT.

Notably, the DoT says it also wants to focus attention on the role of especially female seafarers and about whom it says, remain under represented in the shipping subsector.

“The Department of Transport will use the Seafarers Day to launch an annual platform of engagement on issues affecting  seafarers including promotion of female seafarers. Shipping is one such wherein women constitute a very miniscule part of the shipboard workforce.

“The Seafarers day is a great opportunity for seafarers and maritime professionals in general from all sectors to promote and raise awareness of the value of seafaring culture and practice including training and development. The industry still foresees a shortfall of skilled, licensed officers and engineers in future years.

In keeping with modern communication trends, two hashtags are being used to highlight the event: #SupportSeafarersWellbeing through dialogue and  #GoodDayatSea

According to the DoT, The first hashtag can be used by shipping companies and others within the industry, “to show how they create opportunities and decent working environment for seafarers and how they address mental health issues among their seagoing staff.

“The second hashtag can be used to engage the general public, to wish them a good day at sea and encourage seafarers to share photos of themselves in a positive work environment.”

Meanwhile, in support of the ‘dialogue’ aspect of the observation, a couple of weeks ago SAMSA launched an initiative involving video interviews with local and international seafarers currently in South Africa, but also a social media initiative encouraging seafarers anywhere else to share their stories.

In the video interview series dubbed: “In Conversation with Seafarers – In celebration of Seafarers’ Day 2018′ 10 seafarers ( five female and five male including three international) shared their joys as well as frustrations that they experience in the profession, yet with most stating that seafaring is remains their first love and so it shall remain for a while yet.

To view the interviews (averaging 15 minutes each) go to the “Day of the Seafarer 2018” page or Click Here.

Of Monday’s Day of the Seafarer observation event nationally, in addition to traditional media coverage, SAMSA’s news information online platforms, inclusive of social media, will share news and information flowing from the events on a regular basis throughout the day. In addition, this blog will provide a comprehensive multi media report, inclusive of interviews with some of the participants, from late afternoon on Monday through to Tuesday.

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SA World Oceans Day 2018 observation puts focus on growing menace of plastics pollution

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Durban: 09 June 2018

With global recognition increasing about the dangers of plastics waste pollution particularly on the world’s oceans, closer collaboration among role-players remains crucial to success in combating the rapidly expanding menace.

At least that was the dominant message flowing from this year’s observation of World Oceans Day in Durban at the weekend – a two day event hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in collaboration with several institutions including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

SAMSA is charged statutorily with responsibility for the monitoring and prevention of pollution by ships at sea all around South Africa, an area spawning more than 1.5-million square kilometres and over which the country has interest in as an exclusive economic zone.

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The venue of this year’s event at the Durban port marking the World Oceans Day on 08 June.

In Durban over two days, from Friday and Saturday, several institutions across the public, private, higher education, research as well as community sectors gathered under one roof at a hall located at the harbour for an exhibition as well as a public awareness campaign focused on sharing information about the menace of plastics pollution.

 

 

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Mr Brian Kekana (Left) of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) sharing information on the work of SAMSA in preventing pollution by ships at the country’s oceans but also information on careers in the country’s maritime sector.

The first day was almost exclusively dedicated to high school pupils in the Durban area while the following day was open to members of the public and for whom, another major attraction was country dedicated marine research vessel, the SA Agulhas II.

In addition to maritime careers information for the school pupils, both groups were taken through various information sharing sessions on the importance of the country’s marine resources as well as the absolutely crucial need to spare the environment of pollution, and of which plastic  waste was the most dominant currently across the world.

They were also taken on a tour of the country’s dedicated sea research vessel, the SA Agulhas II ahead of its departure to the Antarctic region with supplies for the research stations there, as well as further studies by a group of marine scientists on board.

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Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Marine scientist (biological oceanography), Ms Keshnee Pillay at this year’s World Ocean Day observation event at the Durban harbour held on Friday and Saturday.

According to Ms Keshnee Pillay, a marine scientist in biological oceanography at the Department of Environmental Affairs, greater collaboration among all stakeholders and roleplayers engaged with the plastics waste pollution campaign, is crucial to future success.

In the following video, explains why the focus of this year’s World Ocean Day celebration had to be on plastics pollution particularly as it affected the oceans and other marine environment.

New ratings training expands maritime sector job opportunities for SA youth

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A group of 20 South African youths that boarded the SA Agulhas in Port Elizabeth on Thursday for an onboard practical ratings training – the first of its kind in the development of skilled seafarers. The pilot ratings training involving 45 youths currently is funded by the Transport Training and Education Authority (TETA) and managed by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI). With the ratings trainees (third from Right) is training officer, Captain Steven Paulse.

Port Elizabeth: 02 June 2018

The launch in Port Elizabeth of a new national ratings practical training for aspirant seafarers is among new and ongoing initiatives to expand the skills base in the country’s maritime sector, thereby giving more youth opportunities, according to the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Launch of the practical aspect of the ratings training took place at the port of Port Elizabeth on Thursday when the first group of 20 youths – 11 males and nine females – boarded the SA Agulhas to join in on its two weeks ocean sojourn on the Indian Ocean on a scientific research mission.

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The SA Agulhas spotting a new coat of paint as well as stock for its 2018 scientific research and training mission in June 2018.

The SA Agulhas, the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel under the command of SAMSA, will be sailing some 300 km into sea along the eastern coast of South Africa,  from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, on a charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF).

The scientific research mission will involve retrieval of data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in the coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change.

It is the first of two missions in 2018 for the SA Agulhas and for which it was recently dry-docked for fine tuning as well as refurbishing at the port of East London.

The scientific research missions for which the vessel is chartered offer an excellent opportunity also for the country’s growing cadre of young cadets undergoing training to become qualified seafarers.

This time around, focus by SAIMI along with its partners including training services providers, has been turned on practical training for ratings – a new category of skills development for aspirant seafarers that is being piloted and aimed at growing the pool of employable South African seafarers.

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The new SAIMI ratings trainees boarding the SA Agulhas in Port Elizabeth early this past week.

The ratings training is funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA).  According to SAIMI, the 20 youths that boarded the SA Agulhas on Thursday are part of a group of 45 candidates in the pilot project.

In a joint media statement, SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said getting a project of this nature off the ground was the result of strong partnerships and collaboration, involving both public and private sector role-players and training providers.

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Dr Malek Pourzanjani, Chief Executive Officer of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI)

“Special mention should be made of TETA as the funder and SAMSA as the owner of the vessel for providing this valuable opportunity for the trainees to gain sea-time,” he said.

Malcolm Alexander, TETA’s maritime education training and development practitioner, said: “We are pleased to see this pilot training project taking shape with the trainees being able to gain practical experience at sea aboard the SA Agulhas.

“The project expands TETA’s involvement in maritime sector education and training at a practical skill level and is a positive for the maritime sector and oceans economy growth.

“It also grows the pool of South African seafarers available for local and global employment.”

According to SAIMI, the current group of trainees is being managed by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and the Sea Safety Training Group.

Marine Crew Services is also a partner to the project, having agreed to place trainees in their managed fleets for further training.

The next phase of the project, according to SAIMI, will entail building the capacity of TVET (Technical Vocational Education & Training) Colleges to offer the training.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. COO: SAMSA

Weighing on the project, SAMSA Chief Operating Officer, Sobantu Tilayi described the initiative as forward looking.

“As part of our commitment to address the high unemployment rate, this rating training provides a wider scope of maritime training and skills development.

“It addresses the gap for career opportunities. Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as maintenance of the vessels, its equipment and gear, in rigging and deploying equipment, and handling and securing cargo.” he said.

Mr Tilayi said the SA Agulhas which SAMSA owns and manages, was particularly well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, was testimony of its strength and calibre.

By supporting the hands-on aspects of maritime training, the project partners are contributing to skills development as outlined in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa plan to fast-track the growth and development of the oceans economy, he said.

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The SA Agulhas exiting the port of Port Elizabeth on Thursday 31 May 2018 on its first of two scientific research and training missions in 2018, this time involving new ratings training of some 20 youths.

 

 

 

Spruced up SA Agulhas ready for its 2018 scheduled journeys

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Pretoria: 22 May 2018

A newly spruced up SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated national cadet training vessel, is back in the Indian Ocean waters alongside the East London dock, ready for its next major operations at sea this year – one beginning at the end of May 2018 and the other, later in the year.

The second major ocean journey for the vessel, scheduled for about late November, will be its third research and training trip along the Indian and Southern Oceans as far as the Antarctica region, carrying on board a group of Indian scientists as well as new cadets from South Africa.

 

In preparation for the two operations, the vessel, owned and operated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), went into dry dock in East London for about a week in late April 2018, after which some major paint work and refurbishment continued once back on water again at the river port in the last couple of weeks.

According to Roland Shortt, Operations Manager: SAMSA’s Maritime Special Projects, from East London, the SA Agulhas will sail to Port Elizabeth on Thursday  (24 May 2018) where it will then bunker on Monday prior to commencing with its first operation involving deployment of  scientific research equipment to the east coast of South Africa.

The deployment operation will set off  from Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) on the 31 May 2018 and finish up in Cape Town on the 16th June 2018.

To catch a glimpse of thework, this blog (The 10th Province) tagged along to see what was actually going on. We also spoke to the vessel’s commander, Captain Daniel Postman, and its all packaged in this 5 minute video below.

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Cape’s Lawhill Maritime Center celebrates it’s first female Master Mariner alumna

Cape Town: 10 May 2018

A Simon’s Town maritime studies foundation school, Lawhill Maritime Centre, settled atop a hill overlooking the harbor below, where the memorial statue of Just Nuisance stands to sunrise, is besides itself with joy this month, and all with good reason.

The news had brokenNicole that one of its former pupils, Nicole Gouvias, now aged 27, (pictured left) had gone on to formally obtain her Master Mariner’s licence in April 2018, thereby becoming the first ever South African female from the school to achieve the top honor in big ships sailing.

And for Nicole, 27, it was not just an entry level licence, but an internationally-recognized Master’s Certificate of Competency (Unlimited) which means she is qualified to command a ship of any size in the world’s oceans.

STS Lawhill Maritime Center has been in existence since 23 years ago, providing 15 to 17 year old students with specialized knowledge and skills  in maritime and other fields in their last three years of secondary schooling.

It is the only school in the Western Cape offering two maritime subjects; Maritime Economics and Nautical Science.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – the country’s agency statutorily charged with, among other things, promoting South Africa’s maritime interests – is among a handful of institutions in both the public and private sectors that has consistently supported the school over the years, mainly through bursaries for youths from previously disadvantaged communities expressly keen on maritime and related studies.

This past week, the school visibly excited about Nicole’s historical achievement, particularly in a maritime sector field where far few women have not only qualified but also thrived as sailors.

To date, South Africa, even though forever a maritime country with a coastline of some 3200 kilometers and an Exclusive Economic Zone measuring some 1.5-million square kilometres over three oceans – the Atlantic to the west, the Southern to the south and the Indian Ocean to the east – has produced a disproportionately low number of female Master Mariners than males.

In fact, the first ever three black female Master Mariners with unlimited licences only emerged in the last three years.

For Nicole, according to the STS Lawhill Maritime Center this past week, her achieving the qualification was a fulfillment of a long held childhood dream of becoming  a ship’s captain one day.

Maersk-container-vesselShe is now one, and is currently serving as Chief Navigation Officer on board container vessels within Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping line.

“She joined Safmarine as a cadet immediately after completing her studies at Simon’s Town School (which she attended from Grade 1 to Grade 12) and graduating cum-laude, from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

“She received the internationally-recognised Masters Certificate of Competency (Coc) in April this year. Doing so was the final step in achieving her dreams of being in command of a ship, as its Master or Captain. As Chief Navigation officer she is currently second in command on board vessel,” said the school in a statement.

Her former educator and currently still a tutor at the STS Lawhill Maritime Center, Mr Brian Ingpen as well as the school’s administrator, Ms Debbie Owen, share their views of the great achievement for Nicole and the school in the following video.

Meanwhile, Nicole, who was away at work overseas this week and therefore not available for an interview, was reported to have attributed her success to her tutors as well as the many retired sea captains who inspired her during their visits to the school.

She told the school: “I always enjoyed the stories told by Captain Schlemmer and the other retired shipmasters and it made me want to go out and make my own stories.

“Having the opportunity to do the maritime subjects at Simons Town School also made University chartwork exercises so much easier.

“I benefitted enormously from the constant words of encouragement of my maritime educators and the time Captain Schlemmer took to help me with chart work helped me be the person I am today,” said Nicole.

According to Lawhill Maritime Center, while Nicole’s career has taken her to many parts of the world – with Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Germany, South Korea, Portugal, China, USA. Argentina, Madagascar and Australia among her favourites – one of her goals is to see more of her own country, South Africa.

“A passionate animal lover, Nicole also enjoys spending her time caring for abandoned animals on her smallholding outside Stellenbosch,” said the school

End

DSC_4762 (2)Footnote: Simon’s Town is home to the harbor located statue of Just Nuisance – South Africa’s only dog ever to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. According to Wikipedia, “He was a Great Dane who between 1939 and 1944 served at HMS Afrikander, a Royal Navy shore establishment in Simon’s Town, South Africa.”

Global initiative against plastic waste at Africa’s oceans takes shape in Port Elizabeth

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The Swartkops River mouth in Port Elizabeth, South Africa that cuts across the city to the Indian Ocean and which is to be a major focus of the African Marine Waste Network campaign against oceans plastic waste pollution prevention strategy in the next five years.

Cape Town: 06 May 2018

An ambitious global initiative to turn decisively the tide against massive volumes of plastics waste entering the world’s oceans around the African continent is formally taking shape in South Africa under the aegis of the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) based in Port Elizabeth.

The network was established in South Africa in 2016 with the support of government and high education institutions, and boasts no less than 42 member countries in the Africa region.

A year ago, it held its first African Marine Waste Conference in the country.

This year, boosted by new funding from the Norwegian government totaling just over a million rand a month ago, the AMWN has not only already established a scientific plastic waste academy launched in Port Elizabeth a week ago, but is also embarking on a three pronged strategy this month involving scientific research of plastic waste, the  launch of a community outreach campaign involving both business and communities, as well establishment of an Africa Youth Network intended to engage particularly young people in an education campaign continent-wide against marine plastic waste and oceans pollution.

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Norway ambassador to South Africa HE Trine Skymoen (centre with white top) with Africa Marine Waste Network director and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust, Dr Anthony Ribbink (fourth from Left) and staff members of the SST in Port Elizabeth, South Africa recently.

According to the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) a leading partner of the AMWN initiative based in Port Elizabeth, the youth network “will enable the youth of Africa to communicate and inspire one another and engage with young people everywhere as well as influence adults, especially leaders.”

The formal launch of the Africa Youth Network is scheduled for June 2018 to also mark World Oceans Day on 08 June.

This latter initiative will be preceded by a number of activities among which will be a ‘plastic industries’ workshop in Port Elizabeth on 10 May 2018. The aim according to SST in a statement, is to extract information that will be used to develop an Education Resource Book for sharing among among schools and similar education institutions throughout the African continent.

“Issues of plastics in the environment and human health are relatively new and have not yet entered education systems as they should have, so the need to build capacity in Africa is an imperative we aim to meet.

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Dr Anthony Ribbink. African Marine Waste Network director and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust

“There is no existing curriculum on plastics in African schools or governments. Thus we will be developing curricula and educational output in the form of an Education Resource Book. The Resource Book will be all encompassing of plastics, from A to Z, from raw materials to final product and after use processes. This will include the roles of producers, distributors, retailers, consumers and municipalities.

“We will develop the book in an all-inclusive manner, where we have planned workshops with the plastic industry and education and curriculum experts to help guide us. We shall host the initial workshops in May to promote sharing of ideas and collaboration between different organizations.

“The first will be on plastics industries, where our plan is to gather as much information as we can about the plastics industry. Thereafter we shall host a teacher’s workshop, inviting teachers and education stakeholders from across South Africa and Africa,” said the SST in a statement this past week.

The AMWN marine plastic waste initiative in the Nelson Mandela Bay region (Port Elizabeth) – a city settled to the east of South Africa on the southern part of the Indian Ocean and fast developing into a significant shipping services hub – will also involve the clean up of a major river estuary cutting across the city to the Indian Ocean.

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On the banks of the Swartkops River estuary, a waste bin depicting the apparent poverty of plastic waste collection methods of the local municipality which evidently leads to plastic waste ending up in the river waters and later into the Indian Ocean to the east of Port Elizabeth

The major plastic waste clean up campaign of the Swartkops River estuary is scheduled to start in Spring, from 15 September 2018.

The idea, according to AMWN, is to establish the region as a centre of excellence through ensuring that it is pristine clean of marine plastic waste in five years, thereby demonstrating the viability and importance of the Africa marine plastic waste reduction initiative.

“By 2021, we (the Nelson Mandela Bay region) can be the cleanest in Africa, the most active, best informed communities,” says the AWMN.

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British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr John Wade-Smith (Third from Left) with (From Left) Nelson Mandela University deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Leitch, Sustainable Seas Trust CEO and Africa Marine Waste Network director Dr Anthony Ribbink, and Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa official Dr Karl Klingsheim

Meanwhile, the British government has heaped praise on both the initiative and the supportive roles played by both the Norwegian government as well as the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, the latter which has taken the lead in oceans studies inclusive of scientific research into environmental management of the oceans surrounding the southern tip of the African continent; the Indian Ocean to the east, the Southern Oceans to the Antarctica region as well as the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Speaking during the formal launch of the AMWN Academy in Port Elizabeth a week ago, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr John Wade-Smith said the combination of scientific research, community engagement and business opportunities development was a strategy that provided opportunity for all members of society to engage.

He had particular praise for the Nelson Mandela University for its involvement in the AMWN initiatives. He also shared insights into how Britain was contributing to the global campaign against plastic waste polluting the world’s oceans.

For Dr Wade-Smith’s full remarks, click on the video below.

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African Marine Waste Network joins global war against marine plastic pollution

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A typical overflowing street dirt bin full of plastic waste situated along the Swartkops River estuary and river mouth in Port Elizabeth that feeds directly into the Indian Ocean to the east of South Africa.

PORT ELIZABETH: 26 April 2018

The global war against oceans plastic pollution has been given yet another boost with the launch of a new plastic waste academy in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, this week.

The African Marine Waste Network Academy, an initiative of the Sustainable Seas Trust and funded by the Norwegian government, was launched at a day long ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela University on Tuesday, 24 April 2018.

The Nelson Mandela University is settled on the seashore of the Indian Ocean, one of three oceans surrounding the country at the most southern tip of Africa – the Southern Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean to the west – and which together combine to form a 3200 kilometer coastline and attaching to which is a 1.5 million square kilometers (km²) of an exclusive economic zone to which South Africa has control.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has direct statutory responsibility for environmental integrity of this vast ocean space particularly in terms of pollution prevention by sea going vessels, inclusive of plastic waste.

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Participants at the launch of the African Marine Waste Network Academy launch in Port Elizabeth included (top Left), Dr Malik Pourzanjani, CEO of Port Elizabeth-based South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and (top) Mrs Nondumiso Mfenyana of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

In Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, it was announced that the new African Marine Waste Network Academy’s work will involve research, education and capacity building, economic incentives and enterprises development as well as communication and networking.

Guests attending the launch included Norway’s Ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr John Wade-Smith, academics from South Africa and Norway among whom were the Nelson Mandela University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Leitch, director of the African Marine Waste Networking group and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust, Dr Anthony Ribbink and about 70 others, among them government, non-government, business and civil sectors representatives.

In a statement announcing the launch this week, the partners to the initiative described the setting up of the academy for the Africa region as a timely intervention especially in a continent fast assuming the dubious ranking of having the most polluted marine and maritime environment.

Apparently, no less than 700 kilograms of plastic waste was entering and accumulating in the seas on a daily basis, it emerged, with predictions that the mass of plastics in the oceans around the world would exceed that of fish in only 30 years from now.

“Plastic has a detrimental impact on all marine life and our environment and this negatively affects the livelihood of millions of people and society at large. The African Marine Waste Network was established in 2016 to address the issue of marine waste at pan-African level, and aims to facilitate collaboration between people and organizations across borders,’ said the parties in the statement.

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Among guests attending the launch of the African Marine Waste Network Academy launch in Port Elizabeth were (from Left) Nelson Mandela University Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Leitch, Sustainable Seas Trust CEO and Africa Marine Waste Network director Dr Anthony Ribbink, British High Commissioner to South Africa Dr John Wade-Smith and Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa official Dr Karl Klingsheim.

In 2017, the city of Port Elizabeth hosted the first ever African Marine Plastic Pollution conference to focus the continent on the problem and in finding solutions going forward. Some 42 African countries since became members of the African Marine Waste Network group.

Last month in Pretoria, the Norwegian government announced a R1.3-million sponsorship for the launch and work of the new academy. This followed an announcement by the Norwegian government of a NOK150-million fund to be dedicated to fighting plastic pollution worldwide.  At the time, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Børge Brende said the Africa region would be one of the focus areas of the fund.

In Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, the parties to the African Marine Waste Network Academy initiative explained what the first priorities of the academy would be in the sponsorship period.

Among these will be the launch of a feasibility study in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) area over a six months period to test ideas and develop proof of concepts.

“The feasibility study will involve cutting edge research to generate much needed data on the amount of waste in catchments, rivers and estuaries in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, deploying drones and other innovative technology to achieve this.

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Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa (centre with white jacket) Her Excellency, Ms Trine Skymoen and African Marine Waste Network director and Sustainable Seas Trust CEO, Dr Anthony Ribbink (with blue & white tie) together with the SST team assisting with the set-up of the new marine pollution academy for Africa in Port Elizabeth.

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Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa Ms Trine Skymoen

Norwegian ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen said lessons learned through the exercise will be shared “with a view to scale up and roll out long-term initiatives from 2019 to stem the flow of marine debris from Africa and its island states into the oceans.

‘Only by sharing the experiences and knowledge will we be able to find sustainable solutions to global challenges. Dr Ribbink and his team are leading the way to saving the oceans. Norway is proud to be a sponsor of SST and a partner to the African Marine Waste Network. We sincerely hope others too will support their activities,” said.

For a six minutes interview with Ms Skymoen, Click on the video below.

SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel, in EL dry dock for a sprucing up!

(The following report and headline photo first appeared in Creamer Media’s Engineering News and with exception of all photos except the headline, is reproduced here, as is, with permission from Creamer Media )

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The SA Agulhas is back in the now-refurbished Port of East London’s Princess Elizabeth dry dock, with improved facilities, for her lay-up maintenance plan after her previous visit in 2013

Pretoria: 13 April 2018

By SIMONE LIEDTKE

The SA Agulhas is back in the now-refurbished Port of East London’s Princess Elizabeth dry dock, with improved facilities, for her lay-up maintenance plan after her previous visit in 2013.

The contract to undertake maintenance on the 40-year-old vessel was awarded to local ship repair company East London Shipyard, and should take between four to six weeks to be completed during April.

Work includes repairs and maintenance on the bow and stern thrusters, tail shaft, steering gear, compressors, cranes, deck machinery and hull.

“More than 80 direct jobs have been created during the project including employment for marine engineers, electricians, riggers, welders, fitters, painters and supervisory staff,” said Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Port of East London ship repair manager Leigh Carls.

Carls added that the dry dock is also undergoing refurbishment and the project is at an advanced stage with R21-million invested to date and 70% of the work completed so far, including new switchgear and crane rails.

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The river port of East London. (Photo: SAMSA)

“Work began in 2015 with a phased approach being followed to enhance all critical components and allow for the dock to be functional throughout the upgrading process,” he noted.

The dry dock refurbishment, in support of ship repair and marine manufacturing, is part of TNPA’s contribution nationally towards government’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative, which aims to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans by, among other things, accelerating investments into ship repair facilities and marine engineering capability.

In the port of East London, Operation Phakisa focuses on the ship repair and boat building industries.

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The SA Agulhas berthing at the port of Port Elizabeth in Janaury 2018 from its 80 days sorjourn into the Indian and Southern Oceans as far as Antarctica with more than 40 Indian scientists and 20 new South African cadets of South African International Maritime Institute.

The SA Agulhas is the fifth commercial vessel to make use of the dry dock over the past six months and was one of the star attractions at last year’s East London Port Festival, as well as the People’s Port Festival in Port Elizabeth earlier in the year.

The vessel, which is the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s dedicated training vessel, returned from a three-month trip to Antarctica at the end of February.

Recently appointed Port of East London manager Sharon Sijako said on Monday that attracting more ship repair business to the port was an essential aspect of the new aggressive strategy to expand the port for the benefit of the region.

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