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.

End

 

South Africa and Norway pump R60-million (NOK 40-mil) funding into oceans and blue economy focused research.

In a separate development, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) is earmarked as home to Africa’s first Waste Academy.

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SEALED: (From Left) Dr Anthony Ribbink, Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST: South Africa)  and  Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa Ms Trine Skymoen exchanging documents and shaking hands on an agreement that will see Norway funding  a first of its kind initiative to combat marine waste in Africa to be based in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape Province.

Pretoria: 22 March 2018

Continued high level research collaboration between South Africa and Norway will see the two countries pumping an additional R60.8-million in 2018 into research focused specifically on oceans and the blue economy in both countries.

This emerged a week ago during the release of a call to researchers, academics and students in both countries to file applications for funding under the programme, now in its fourth phase since about 16 years.

Known as SANOCEAN and based on an agreement ratified between the countries a month ago, the programme is focussed on three areas of research – the oceans/blue economy, climate change and the environment and sustainable energy.

DSC_3696.JPGIn a parallel development, Norway has committed other funding to development of a plastic waste scientific research and community empowerment initiative that will also involve the establishment of the first of its kind Africa Waste Academy in Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape, over the next five years.

This latter initiative, announced at the Norwegian embassy in Pretoria on Monday, is being undertaken through the Sustainable Seas Trust, a Port Elizabeth-based independent nongovernmental institution headed by Dr Anthony Ribbink as chief executive officer.

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Dr Anthony Ribbink. CEO Sustainable Seas Trust

The Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) was the host last year of the inaugural Africa Marine Waste Conference in Port Elizabeth – and the first of three held in country in 2017 – and among whose outcomes was the founding of the Africa Marine Waste Network (AMWN) involving close on 40 countries in the region.

This, according to the parties to the latest initiative, comes against the backdrop that marine waste studies worldwide have found that Africa is ‘the second-most littered continent on the planet, with predictions that by 2050, it will take the top spot.’

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Guests attending the announcement of the Norwegian government funding of a marine waste combatting initiative  for Africa at the Royal Norwegian embassy in Pretoria on Monday

On Monday in Pretoria, the Norwegian government announced that it would be providing initial funding totalling just over R1.2-million to the Africa plastic waste research and community development initiative.

DSC_3739.JPGNorwegian ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen said: “This grant agreement is for a ‘Combating Marine Waste in Africa’ feasibility study, to be conducted by the Sustainable Seas Trust and the African Marine Waste Network on or before 31 October (2018).”

She said further detail on the joint venture with SST and AMWN would be shared in a month’s time during a gathering scheduled for Port Elizabeth.

(For a full interview with Dr Anthony Ribbink of SST and Dr Karl Klingsheim of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa, please click on the video below)

Meanwhile, a few days earlier, Norway and South Africa announced the SANOCEAN initiative, in terms of which ‘approximately  40 million Norwegian krune (NOK) will be available (NOK 30 mill. from Norway and ZAR 15 Mill. from South Africa) for oceans and blue economy research beginning this year.

In terms of the arrangement, no less than 50% of the total funding should go to the South African partner in each of the identified thematic areas of the project, and each of which is intended to stimulate increased research collaborations, and exchanges between Norway and South Africa.

The thematic areas include Ocean Space and the Blue Economy, Environment Climate System and impacts on society, Sustainable Energy, and Filing of research data.

The research project in terms of the agreement ratified on 09 February 2018, runs for six years from this year through to 2023

“The first year (2018) is earmarked for completing the grant agreement(s) with the implementing agencies, prepare and launch the one and only call for grants, assess incoming proposals and allocate grants.

“The next three to four years (2019 -2022) will be the grant implementing period and the final year (2023) for reporting and finalising the programme,” say the parties in a statement

“The new bilateral research co-operation programme aims to strengthen research in these areas in both countries. Ocean space and the blue economy is a strategic priority for both South Africa and Norway as reflected by the launching of Operation Phakisa, which aims to fast-track solutions on critical development issues in South Africa, and the recent White Paper on the place of the oceans in Norway’s foreign and development policy.

“Norway and South Africa also recognise the threat of dangerous climate change and work towards achieving the decisions taken during the 2015 Paris agreement, calling for continued knowledge production on climate change, the environment and renewable energies.

“Research in all these fields should provide a renewed basis for cooperation, innovation, and the pursuit of profitable business opportunities for both countries,” say the parties to the SAOCEAN agreement.

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Dr Karl Klingsheim, Science & Technology Counsellor
Royal Norwegian Embassy, Pretoria

Meanwhile, according to Dr Karl Klingsheim, counsellor at the Norwegian embassy in South Africa, the two initiatives are part of a broader research investment funding by Norway jointly with various parties in which South African in particular can tap in.

He provided the list of research funds available as follows:

Research:

  • SANOCEAN (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/SANOCEAN/1254033164010/p1184150364108?visAktive=true
    The goal of the bilateral SANOCEAN research program (“South Africa – Norway Co-Operation on Ocean Research including blue economy, climate change, the environment and sustainable energy”) is enhanced knowledge-based policies and decisions for sustainable development in the areas of oceans and ocean space (blue economy), environment (with emphasis on oceans and pollution), climate change and sustainable energy in South Africa and Norway. Particular attention shall be paid on aspects leading to income generation and provide selling arguments to producers, service providers as well as young entrepreneurs. The research needs to be relevant to South African and Norwegian priorities. On a wider scale, the programme shall aim to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • MILJØFORSK (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/MILJOFORSK/1254008919542

The primary objective of the “Programme for Environmental Research for a Green Transition” (MILJØFORSK) is to strengthen the knowledge base for sustainable development and the transition to a green society. The MILJØFORSK programme is the Research Council’s primary environmental research initiative and encompasses the land-based environment, fresh water and air. The programme will generate new knowledge about biodiversity, cultural environments, ecosystem services, hazardous substances and pollution, among other topics. It will also study pressures on the environment and the relationships between social and natural drivers/responses and measures. In addition, the programme will generate more knowledge about key environmental challenges and provide the government administration, trade and industry, and society at large with a better foundation on which to take decisions to promote a green transition.

  • NORGLOBAL2 (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/NORGLOBAL2/1254025180071
    The primary objective of NORGLOBAL2 (“Norway – Global Partner”) is to produce research-based knowledge of high quality on poverty reduction and sustainable development informing development policies, development programmes, private sector investments and further research. As the world gathers around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), knowledge based on high quality research on international development can be crucial to ensure progress. NORGLOBAL-2 will have a challenge-based approach, where researchers are invited to develop projects that address challenges within broadly defined areas. To ensure research of high quality and relevance, this will usually require co-production of knowledge between researchers in the North and in the South, and the cooperation between several disciplines. Active collaboration is encouraged with researchers in collaborative countries for Norwegian Overseas Development Assistance.
  • KLIMAFORSK personal mobility grants (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/KLIMAFORSK/1254033598449?WT.mc_id=nyhetsbrev-ForskningsradetEngelsk
    The KLIMAFORSK programme is announcing funding for research stays abroad and visiting researcher stays in Norway that promote the scientific and strategic objectives of the programme. Applicants are encouraged to read the text of the call carefully and to comply with the requirements stipulated for the relevant application type and the call for proposals.
  • INT-BILAT (open-ended): forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/INTBILAT/1253997815241
    “International bilateral research cooperation” (INT-BILAT) offers travel support to expand industry-oriented R&D cooperation with Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the US. Bilateral cooperation provides access to global knowledge production and helps to ensure that Norway benefits from the results of international research. Calls for proposals under this activity may address all or some of these countries. They may be directed towards certain target groups and may encompass travel support, fellowships and support for events.

 

Higher education:

  • INTPART (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/INTPART/1254007331831
    The objective of the INTPART programme (“International partnerships for excellent education, research and innovation”) is to develop world-class research and education in Norway through long term international cooperation. The programme will create a framework for expanding cooperation between research groups considered to be at the international forefront today or that are believed to have the potential to become world leaders in their fields in the future. The programme will help to increase the extent and enhance the quality and relevance of scientific cooperation with selected countries, in particular by establishing strong ties between higher education and research cooperation. It will also pave the way for cooperation with the business and public sectors, when relevant. The programme will ensure that its portfolio covers all eight countries: Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa and the USA, and encompasses both new and established partnerships. (Application must come from the Norwegian partner.)
  • UTFORSK (deadline 25 September): https://www.siu.no/eng/Programme-information/Cooperation-outside-the-EU/utforsk
    The UTFORSK programme aims to enhance long-term cooperation in higher education between Norway and Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia and South Africa. It support academic partnerships based on the mutual, strategic interests of the institutions and aims to enhance the quality of international cooperation in education by encouraging integration with research cooperation and involvement of non-academic partners. The objectives are to establish and strengthen educational partnerships between institutions in Norway and the partner countries through: development and implementation of joint educational activities; increased mobility of students, including internships/work placements; increased integration of higher education and research; and increased involvement of non-academic partners. (Application must come from the Norwegian partner.)
  • InternAbroad (deadline 25 September): https://www.siu.no/eng/Programme-information/Cooperation-outside-the-EU/internabroad
    The objective of InternAbroad is to increase the number of students from Norway who do a credit-yielding internship or work placement abroad, where they get practical experience in a job, enhance intercultural competencies and language skills, and acquaint themselves with work environments and business cultures in a foreign country. As a result, students will benefit from a more relevant education, and companies and organisations will benefit from access to a pool of talented students who may become future employees. The internships may be undertaken in any form of business or organisation, whether it is small or large, private or public, for-profit or non-profit. The internships must take place in one or more of the partner countries: Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Canada or USA. (Application must come from the Norwegian partner.)
  • ErasmusPlus (open ended): http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/about_en
    Erasmus+ will support transnational partnerships among Education, Training, and Youth institutions and organisations to foster cooperation and bridge the worlds of Education and work in order to tackle the skills gaps we are facing in Europe. It will also support national efforts to modernise Education, Training, and Youth systems. In the field of Sport, there will be support for grassroots projects and cross-border challenges such as combating match-fixing, doping, violence and racism. Erasmus+ brings together seven existing EU programmes in the fields of Education, Training, and Youth; it will for the first time provide support for Sport. As an integrated programme, Erasmus+ offers more opportunities for cooperation across the Education link to another EC website, Training link to another EC website, Youth link to another EC website, and Sport link to another EC website sectors and is easier to access than its predecessors, with simplified funding rules.

 

EU research:

Please see “Roadmap for EU – South Africa S&T cooperation”: http://ec.europa.eu/research/iscp/pdf/policy/za_roadmap_2017.pdf#view=fit&pagemode=none

 

The PES2020 scheme (“Project Establishment Support directed towards H2020”) is one of several funding instruments employed by the Norwegian Research Council to strengthen Norwegian participation under H2020 and improve returns in the form of greater project funding from H2020. The EU funding arena is highly competitive, and it takes knowledge, time and resources to prepare good project proposals. The PES2020 scheme is designed to relieve some of the cost burden for Norwegian applicants related to the preparation of project proposals. The scheme is also designed to raise the overall competence of Norwegian applicants with regard to participation under H2020, as well as to: enhance the quality of the proposals submitted; increase the number of proposals involving Norwegian participants; and encourage participation of new applicants in EU projects.

A call for funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020: RISE supports mobility and exchange of research and innovation staff, incl. managerial, technical and administrative staff between institutions in different sectors or with research institutions in countries outside of Europe. The RISE scheme promotes international and cross-sector collaboration through exchanging research and innovation staff, and sharing knowledge and ideas from research to market (and vice-versa). The scheme fosters a shared culture of research and innovation that welcomes and rewards creativity and entrepreneurship and helps to turn creative ideas into innovative products, services or processes.

A call for funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020: Individual Fellowships (IF) are awarded to the best researchers at postdoctoral level, of any nationality, for 12-24 months employment in EU Member States or Associated Countries. Fellowships take form of European or Global Fellowships. Global Fellowships have a mandatory 12 month return period. The goal of the Individual Fellowships is to enhance the creative and innovative potential of experienced researchers, wishing to diversify their individual competence in terms of skill acquisition through advanced training, international and intersectoral mobility. Individual Fellowships provide opportunities to researchers of any nationality to acquire and transfer new knowledge and to work on research and innovation in Europe (EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries) and beyond. The scheme particularly supports the return and (re)integration of European researchers from outside Europe and those who have previously worked here, as well as researchers displaced by conflict outside the EU and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. It also promotes the career restart of individual researchers who show great potential.

A call for funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020: MSCA COFUND offers co-funding for regional, national or international fellowship programmes on doctoral and postdoctoral level, where transnational mobility is part of the action. The COFUND scheme aims to stimulate regional, national or international programmes to foster excellence in researchers’ training, mobility and career development, spreading the best practices of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. This will be achieved by co-funding new or existing regional, national, and international programmes to open up to, and provide for, international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary research training, as well as transnational and cross-sectoral mobility of researchers at all stages of their career.

For companies:

  • Visjon 2030 (in Norwegian only) skal avlaste risiko i utviklings- og pilotfasen. Bedrifter som søker oppfordres til samarbeid med humanitære organisasjoner, forskningsinstitusjoner eller andre bedrifter for å sikre lokal markedskompetanse og forankring. Partnerskapet skal bidra til at innovasjonsprosjektet utvikler et produkt det er behov for og som lar seg kommersialisere. Vi ser etter bedrifter som kan tilby innovative løsninger knyttet til helse og utdanning, og som kan bidra til å redusere fattigdom i utviklingsland. Søknadsfrist 20. april.
  • SAIS, the Southern Africa Innovation Support programme, is a regional development initiative that supports the growth of new businesses through knowledge, networks and entrepreneurship. Are you an innovation support organization from research/academia, civil society or perhaps from private sector such as an innovation hub, lab, incubator or accelerators? Do you support entrepreneurs and startups and have partners in the SADC region and beyond? SAIS Call for Proposals in 2018 is open 12.3.2018 – 25.4.2018 and is targeting projects under three thematic areas, Stronger Ecosystems, Scaling Enterprises and Inclusive innovations.
  • EUROSTARS is the only European funding programme to be specifically dedicated to support R&D-performing SMEs in their innovative R&D projects. With its bottom-up approach, it stimulates international collaborative research and innovation projects that will be rapidly commercialized. A EUROSTARS project must have a civilian purpose and be aimed at the development of a new product, process or service.

 

 

 

 

So they missed Christmas at home, but travel almost reached the ends of earth!

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Port Elizabeth: 19 February 2018

For many of the 20 South African newest cadets that docked in Port Elizabeth on Friday for the first time on home soil since November 2017, missing Christmas with family at home was a completely new experience.

But apparently it did not matter, not really; as after all, they were out charting the course of their future maritime careers over the Indian and Southern Oceans, and while about it, almost reached the ends of the earth.

DSC_3631.JPGThe group was South Africa’s newest deck and engine cadets from the Cape Peninsula and Durban universities of technology, and were the second most recent group of cadets undergoing their first practical training to sail as far as the Antarctica region over an 80 days period in 2017/8.

Trained under the tutelage of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based in Port Elizabeth – an entity now responsible for the country’s National Cadet Programme – in collaboration with the South Africa Maritime Training Academy (actual training providers on board the SA Agulhas) as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (owners of the vessel), the group left South Africa from Cape Town on Friday, 27 November 2017.

The route took them to Mauritius over four days where they picked up a group of about 40 Indian scientists involved in research projects of the oceans closest the sub-continent.

From Mauritius they headed south towards the Antarctica and for just over two months they spent the time on board the vessel, learning the basics of ship sailing – their training split between deck and engine duties.

On return and arrival in Port Elizabeth on Friday morning, they could not wait to share their wealth of experience. Click Here.

Among those on hand to welcome the cadets back were SAMSA senior officials; deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Nigel Campbell and SAMSA Maritime Specialist Maritime Projects Operations Manager, Mr Roland Shortt.

Briefly, the officials were most impressed by the group of cadets both in terms of its focus on training as well as general conduct.

For their remarks to the cadets, Click on the video.

 

 

 

 

South Africa welcomes back its newest cadets on Friday after 80 days at sea to Antarctica!

 

DSC_2243Pretoria: 14 February 2018

Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape will again be the receiving and welcoming city to about two dozen of South Africa’s newest cadets to successfully set sail – and venture for the first time into the icy Antarctica territory over the last the last 80 days.

The welcoming back ceremony takes place on Friday morning at the port of Port Elizabeth where the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) along with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the South Africa Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and various stakeholders, including the media will see the cadets get off their their training vessel, the SA Agulhas on South African soil for the first time since 24 November 2017.

 

The 20 cadets comprising 19 deck and one engine, left the country on the day to join a group of Indian scientists in Mauritius and with whom they would spend the rest of the time at sea from the Indian to the Southern Oceans for about 60 days.

The cadets under the stewardship of Port Elizabeth based SAIMI are mostly from the country’s two universities specializing in maritime education and sailor development; the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Durban University of Technology.

During the trip on which their supervision was under SAMTRA officials, the cadets underwent extensive training in their respective streams as part of their academic education towards a set of maritime qualifications including of engineering.

Sea training on board sailing vessels is a vital aspect of their maritime training and education and for which the SA Agulhas, hauled from certain retirement by SAMSA some five years ago, is designed.

After acquisition by SAMSA from the Department of Environmental Affairs, the SA Agulhas was converted into the dedicated cadet training vessel, complete with a state-of -the-art modern simulator that allows the students real time experience  of sailing and managing vessels in actual sea conditions.

The trip to the Indian and Southern Oceans over 80 days was the second by the SA Agulhas in 2017 involving, on each of the occasions, the deployment and training of young South Africans cadets in the company of scientists from India.

On their departure in November from Cape Town, the new cadets had high hopes and spoke well of their expected experience during the voyage in the video below.

This blog will again speak to them to find out if their experience matched their expectations. We will share those views on this blog from Friday onward.

Friday’s welcome back event is scheduled to take place at the port of Port Elizabeth from early morning till noon.

Among expected guests are senior officials of both SAMSA and SAIMI, among them Mr Sobantu Tilayi (COO at SAMSA) and Dr Malik Pourzanjani (CEO of SAIMI).

End

 

 

 

 

Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 digs deep into world’s oceans plastic pollution

This is a complete wrap up of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 3rd leg in Cape Town, South Africa two weeks ago. The glamorous global yacht race -a.ka. the F1 Race of the Seas – is currently leaving Melbourne for Hong Kong (Tuesday morning, 02 December 2018) and carries aloft its masts, a crucial message about the increasing swelling of the world’s oceans with micro-plastics.

The theme of the race is Turn The Tide Against Plastics

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Cape Town: 03 January 2018

The world’s maritime sector is stepping up its fight against pollution of the seas, with particular focus currently being on plastics pollution of the oceans, and in the mix of tools being deployed in the war is water sports.

At the pinnacle of the world’s water racing sports codes now fully engaged against oceans plastic pollution is the Sweden driven global yacht race, the Volvo Ocean Race; a multi-billion rand oceans yacht race equated to the Formula One (F1) annual car racing event, and run every two years across the world’s oceans over a period of just over 260 days at a time.

The 2017/8 Volvo Ocean Race is currently underway, having kicked off with seven yachts in Portugal in November, with a stopover in Cape Town 20 days ago, and now presently departing Melbourne in Australia  for the 6000 nautical miles 4th leg towards Hong Kong, which the yachts should reach in about 20 days (20/1 January 2018).

DSC_2429On arrival in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront for the South Africa leg on November 24, topping celebratory activities to mark the two weeks’ stopover lasting until 10 December, were two, two-day United Nations-driven conferences focused on collaborative efforts for sustainable oceans management

Following to these in the second week, was also a two-day Volvo Ocean Race sponsors’ Oceans Summit on proposed global cooperative actions for the combating of the growing menace of plastics pollution of the world’s oceans that’s said to be increasing at an alarming rate.

Put differently, seven (7) full working days out of 14 of the Volvo Ocean Race stop-over in South Africa from 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017 were devoted entirely to discussions and information sharing on sustainable oceans management as well as current and proposed actions to combat plastics pollution of the world’s oceans.

Crucially, organizers of the separately staged yet thematic-linked discussion forums were emphatic on the importance of the use of the Volvo Ocean Race as a creative tool to draw the general public’s attention to the oceans management issues, but also as an ideal platform for information sharing particularly about the problems of plastics pollution of the world’s seas.

DSC_2265The Volvo Ocean Race now in its 13th edition since launch 42 years ago is a major drawcard to a global mixed audience of millions of people in 113 countries, and shored up by more than 8000 hours of global television coverage with an average media value of 47.5 euros (2015 values). Corporate sponsors also number in the thousands.

In Cape Town alone, an estimated two-million people take time out to watch the race or visit the yachts’ yard during the two weeks stop over at the iconic V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, located at no more than a kilometre off the foot of Table Mountain, at Victoria Bay.

According to organizers, the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 edition is the first of its kind to focus attention on plastics pollution of the oceans, and its involvement goes beyond providing a platform for publicity and discussion, but also involves direct participation by the racing yachts in collecting scientific data on the extent of the spread of plastics at sea as well as their impact.

A number of scientific consortium are involved in the problem solving endeavor, among them the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), JCOMMPS, UNESCO-IOC, GEOMAR and SubTech.

 

In partnership, the agencies use the Volvo Ocean Race to collect both meteorological and oceanographic data for a better understanding of oceans weather patterns, but also for the first time, use of instrumentation for the measurement of CO2 as well as collection of samples of microplastics increasingly swelling the seas waters.

In the following three videos recorded in Cape Town two weeks ago, Ms Celine Greuzard, Communications director of the Volvo Group, Ms Anne-Cecile Turner, the Sustainability Programme Leader of the Volvo Ocean Race and Mr Richard Brisius, President of the Volvo Ocean Race explain the rationale of the involvement of the global yacht race in the maritime world’s fight against oceans plastics pollution.

 

In the following four videos, Mr David Green, chief executive officer of the V&A Waterfront shares his organization’s perspective of and role in the Volvo Ocean Race to South Africa, while Mr Bruce Parker-Forsyth, MD of Worldsport shares the South Africa perspective of the race to local socio-economic development, and Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) explains the role played by the State agency in monitoring and combating oceans pollution by ships, in terms of both local legislation as well as conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to which South Africa is a member.

In the next two videos, Dr Ivone Mirpuri of the Portugal based Mirpuri Foundation – and contributor during the Volvo Ocean Race Cape Town Oceans Summit – and Mr Ulrich van Bloemenstein of the Department of Environmental Affairs share their views of the event.

Meanwhile, South Africa which in 2017 became the venue of several continental and global meetings on plastics pollution of the seas, these including an Africa Oceans Plastic Pollution Seminar over five days, should see more increased action in the coming year, according to Ms Silindile Mncube.

She is the South Africa leader of the ‘Let’s Do It’ international NGO involved in plastics pollution combating initiatives.

During the Volvo Ocean Race Oceans Summit in Cape Town, she shared the NGO’s plans to actively getting involved in South Africa and the rest of the continent, with the launch of a dedicated “plastics cleanup day” during 2018.

And finally, in the last three videos below; is an overview of the UN Sustainable Oceans Management two-day conference that also involved a visit to Robben Island….

followed by Mr Adnan Award, South Africa director of the International Oceans Institute (IOI) who gives an overview of the entire oceans management and pollution combating gatherings held during the Volvo Ocean Race’s South Africa leg….

and Mr Rafe Axelson gives local boat building industry’s view of the importance of the race to the sector locally.

For videos of the UN Sustainable Management Conference, Click Here, and for more general videos and photos of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 South Africa leg, Click Here.

End

Toasting home grown talent: Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Ashton Sampson

DSC_2538CAPE TOWN: 06 December 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race is generally regarded worldwide as the most supreme water sailing sport in the world, and with good reason. Oceans sailing skill and talent combined with the most modern technology in yacht racing over a period of over 260 days at sea at a time, simply positions the sport at the top of rankings of its kind.

For South Africa, the Volvo Ocean Race would mean pretty much very little without its direct participation and contribution, both as a touching point during the race’s course around the world, and for the opportunities it offers for business investment especially in the boat manufacturing and repair sector, as well as the marine tourism and hospitality sectors.

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Crew members of the Vestas team who took third place on the South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

Strategically positioned as the gateway to the southern ocean, South Africa but specifically Cape Town in the Western Cape has, according to organizers and local hosts of the event, always been a welcome sight for sailors and boat crews, not only because of its world renowned beauty and hospitality, but also due to the boat building maintenance and repair expertise in the city.

During a two week stop-over in the Mother City, this time around occurring in the window period of 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017, the race pumps into the local economy more than R500-million and in the process, creating new and expanded business and job opportunities for locals.

Such job opportunities are what have led to one young South African, a young electrical engineer from Grassy Park in the Cape Flats, Ashton Sampson, aspiring to and eventually joining the VoR Team a few years ago, and never having to look back again.

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South African born Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Mr Ashton Sampson in Cape Town this week

Sampson dropped in back home this past week with the arrival of the VoR for the South Africa leg (second leg of the race overall) to do what he does best – making sure that the seven yachts are in tip top condition once again, when they sat sail for the third leg of the race on Sunday, 10 December 2017.

The yachts having started arriving on the afternoon of Friday, 24 November 2017, have  since been spending time in the dedicated VoR Boat Yard on the south western end of the Table Bay harbor where Sampson and teammates have been working long hours to ensure that the ‘Volvo 65’s’ will be in their best sailing condition to take on the 6 500 nautical mile journey to Melbourne, Australia.

This blog learned that 38 year-old Sampson developed a love for the ocean from a very young age and through hard work and determination, was able to become part of the Volvo Ocean Race team, known as the ‘best of the best’.

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Some boating business and Volvo Ocean Race enthusiasts visiting the VoR Boat Yard at the Cape Town habour near the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Educationally, he is the product of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), one of the top institutions in the country which working closely with other partners including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), produces top notch sailors and other maritime sector related graduates.

Sampson’s is a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, which eventually led to his being hired and employed by London’s Diverse Yachts in 2009, which he then left in 2015 only to rejoin again in 2017.

DSC_2805.JPG“I’ve been passionate about sailing and electronics for as long as I can remember and always wanted to combine the two. I was given the opportunity to join the South African America’s Cup in 2004, which set a path in motion that I don’t regret at all.

“I work very hard and I think I have a good work ethic. I believe this always shows in the quality of my work and people notice this, said Sampson in an interview.

About his direct involvement with the VoR Team, speaking in a remarkably flawless English accent, he said: “We’ve been contracted to the Boatyard, a sub organisation of the Volvo Ocean Race, which has been setup to maintain all systems relating to the fleet.

“For the first edition of the one design fleet of Volvo 65’s in the 2014/15 race, I eventually ended up managing the installation phase of all the electronic systems across the fleet.

‘We were then appointed to maintain the fleet’s electronics as they raced around the world and worked closely with various suppliers.  This time round it’s a very similar setup, but we’ve refined the processes.”

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The ‘Gateway’ to the Volvo Ocean Race precinct at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

In between the times he has left and rejoined his current employer, Diverse Yachts, Sampson worked for the British America’s Cup team, Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing as a systems technician. His rejoining the former employee a few months ago was for serving specifically in the current VoR, he says.

This 2017/18 VoR South Africa leg stop over is not the first for him. He’d been here before, he told a group of local boat manufacturing and maintenance that visited the VoR boat yard a few days after the racing yachts docked.

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Crew members of the Mapfre, the first Volvo Ocean Race yacht to reach Cape Town on 24 November 2017

Describing his love for the F1 of yacht racing, Sampson said: “It takes a lot of professionalism and teamwork to make this race a success, both on and off the water. All the people across the fleet have very high standards and I thrive in this kind of environment. The hardest part is to always plan and anticipate events that the race will throw at you and being fully prepared for it.”

When on dry land, Sampson lives in a small town, Fareham, in the south of England near the coast with his fiancé. 

DSC_2517He admits to missing Cape Town and South Africa. “I mostly miss family and friends, but also the many attractions around Cape Town relating to nature; the local fauna and flora, animals, mountain ranges, oceans, inland lakes and friendly people. Cape Town is truly unique in this regard as it has so much to offer and explore.”

To stay close to the sight and smell of the ocean, and which his Fareham abode offers in abundance, Sampson said:  “I always live near the coast – I love being around water. My parents and most of my family are based in Cape Town and I generally visit at least once a year. Of course it helps that the race is in my home town. Cape Town is most certainly the best stopover in the world!”

Sampson’s fellow South Africans on the team include Mike Coburn, who is involved in sail making through North Sails, and Simon Botes, who is involved in the hardware (deck gear, winches and more), dealing with Harken.

End

SA research and training vessel, SA Agulhas reaches Mauritius en route to Antarctica: SAMSA

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(File photo) The SA Agulhas departing from Cape Town to Port Louis, Mauritius on Friday, 24 November 2017 to pick up a group of Indian scientists en route to Antarctica for the second scientific research and cadet training expedition of 2017. The sojourn will last at least 80 days.

CAPE TOWN: 04 December 2017

SA Agulhas heads back to Antarctica with scientists and 20 new cadets on board: SAMSA

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Pretoria: 22 November 2017

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel will be heading back to the Antarctica region on Friday, on yet another scientific research and cadet training expedition scheduled to last about three months, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced on Wednesday

According to SAMSA in a statement in Cape Town, on board the vessel will be a group of Indian scientists to conduct studies of parts of the Indian and Southern Oceans, and in their company, a group of new South African cadets under the Port Elizabeth based South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), drawn from the Cape Peninsula and Durban Universities of Technology (CPUT and DUT) to undergo seafarer training during the expedition.

IMG_4815 (2)The expedition beginning with the SA Agulhas setting sail from Cape Town on Friday, will be the second of its kind in the past 14 months involving the combination of a scientific study and the training of South African cadets.

The last one occurred between December 2016 and March 2017.

According to SAMSA on Wednesday: “The vessel will transverse through the Indian ocean with its first stop in Mauritius, to collect the scientists, and then head south to Antarctica to spend three months on a research mission. For the 20 cadets, recruited for various on board technical functions, this will be their maiden voyage.

“The SA Agulhas is expected to reach Antarctica in four weeks. The cadets, aged between 20-27 years old, fresh from their academic studies from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Durban University of Technology comprise a corps of 19 deck cadets and one engine cadet. Twelve are males and eight are females,” said SAMSA

Management of the training of the cadets has according to SAMSA,  again been entrusted The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) which will work jointly with two deck training officers, Captain Merwyn Pieters and Steven Paulse, who are both experienced in the operation of the vessel and repeat travelers of scientific expedition route undertaken a year.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayo. COO South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Remarking about the expedition, SAMSA COO Mr Sobantu Tilayi said: “As SAMSA we are proud to be part of this endeavor to train young people and expose them to new opportunities. We are confident that the cadets chosen possess the steely determination and focus to survive in the Antarctic.

“The knowledge acquired from this cold journey will benefit South Africa’s fast growing maritime sector and the entire world.

“It is through such initiatives that we aim to fight the plague of unemployment, create awareness about our oceans and help contribute towards our oceans economy,” said Mr Tilayi.

Captain Pieters, an experienced seaman with almost 46 years under his belt working on various vessels, said the cadets were enthusiastic and keen.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these young people – a trip like this would normally cost over $50 000, and they are being afforded this opportunity to learn under some of the most trying conditions. Between the other training officer and I we are honored to pass on our expertise and knowledge.

“It takes guts of steel to be away from your family and loved ones. For this group, this journey is new to them, and it would come with many new experiences, including building team spirit,” said Capt Pieters.

End

 

Cape maritime high school pupils drive Professor Jansen to ‘tears’!

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Glowing in Glory: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi (Right) and Chief Human Capital Officer, Ms Lesego Mashishi and two other officials posing for a pic with 14 Lawhill Maritime High School pupils supported by the organisation during Wednesday night’s 2017 annual awards ceremony in Simonstown.

Cape Town: 13 October 2017

The eloquence and apparent sheer constant focus of a group of maritime high school children at an awards ceremony held at the quaint Western Cape town of Simonstown last night drove renowned South African academic and author, Professor Jonathan Jansen into tears, literally.

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Professor Jonathan Jansen presenting an award to one of Lawhill High School achievers at an annual awards presentation ceremony at the high school in Simonstown on Thursday evening

And by his own admission, Prof Jansen, a former Vice-Rector of the University of the Free State, committed to sharing publicly the moving experience of his encounter with the group of children on Thursday evening. He’d tell it all in his regular national newspaper column due next Thursday, he said.

Prof Jansen, generally known for his outspokenness on especially educational matters in South Africa, was the guest speaker at a Lawhill Maritime High School annual awards presentation ceremony – an event during which the school’s top performing pupils are rewarded with a range of scholarship awards, some for continuance at the high school, others for near future advanced education at tertiary level, while the rest are for pure personal recognition.

The annual event at the hill side school overlooking the South African Navy naval base at the Simonstown harbour below, also presents the pupils an opportunity to reflect on their school related experiences during a given school year period.

Among these are their oft sojourns out of the classroom into the world of maritime sector transport in South Africa and abroad, courtesy of a range of sponsors and other supporters of the school in its ongoing maritime education endeavors.

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Paying attention: Former Lawhill Maritime High School head, Mr Brian Ingpen (Second Right) flanked by the school’s Principal, Mrs Jean Human (Right) and past student and now a Third Engineer with the Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ms Blondie Jobela (Left).

At Thursday night’s event, true to form, Prof Jansen – clearly highly impressed by the evident sharpness of the group of pupils that made presentations during the function, as well as their high level of achievements in various aspects of their school life as reflected by their range of awards – was both highly grateful for their performance but also scathing towards the country’s general education authorities for what he described as the ‘dumbing down’ of children’s intelligence and consequently, their potential.

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Driving a Professor to Tears: Professor Jonathan Jansen (Front Left), almost in tears while seated with some of the school’s pupils, listening attentively to one of them giving testimony about their enjoyment of their maritime studies and about the appreciated support they get from the school.

Prof Jansen said the country’s education authorities’ attitude was that the country’s school going children were not really expected to achieve much academically hence the lowered levels of pass marks, to as low as 20%, in crucial subjects such as mathematics.

“The biggest problem we have as South Africans is that they mess with your head! They told you can pass with 30%. You know what they did last year, your Government? They said they would condone the entire Grade 8 class last year with a pass mark of 20%”

“Thank goodness that black people can’t blush! I blushed. I was embarrassed. They were not talking about the children at Saxon and Bishopscourt. They were talking about you and me. The expectation of you is so low! You only just have to get up, dress nicely, write your name on a matric certificate and you pass, because the expectation of what you can achieve is so low” said Prof Jansen.

Sadly, he added that the low expectation was also prevalent among tutors at the country’s universities where the dominant approach was an emphasis on what students could not achieve rather than a positive focus on their potential and what was possible for them.

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Part of the crowd of people, among them sponsors or representatives thereof, attending Thursday evening’s Lawhill Maritime School annual awards.

Partly as a result of this condescending and demeaning attitude, some of the country’s best achievers globally, such as Elon Musk, a former Pretoria Boys High pupil and later the founder of American automaker Tesla and aerospace firm, SpaceX; have had to leave South Africa for places in the world where they were better recognized for their potential to achieve.

Prof Jansen said while overseas, he’d had an opportunity to meet a group South Africans who’d gone to make sterling achievements elsewhere, and asked them why they’d left the country.

“They said ‘Professor, here, people expect us to do well. They look at you and they see greatness.

“Young people of maritime I am emotional, because I am so proud of what I saw here tonight.

A highly animated and sometimes tearful Prof Jansen heaped praises upon the Lawhill Maritime High School pupils for their ‘go getting’ attitude, urging them to not only be constantly vigilant in the look out for emerging opportunities but to also grab them with both hands at the first instance.

On national unity and race relations, Prof Jansen also said  ‘old white people’ supporting the awards as well as other financial support to the school and similar institutions, should be welcomed as a benevolent, albeit, necessary gesture that is a crucial contribution by the previously advantaged to nation building, and an investment in the country’s youths.

To listen to Prof Jansen full remarks, Click on the video below.

 

More pictures from the ceremony:

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Time for talking about the importance of South Africa’s maritime economy is over. Let’s work on it!’ urges Transport Minister, Joe Masangwanyi

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Celebrating World Maritime Day 2017. Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (Right) chatting with South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) officials, Ms Mapitso Dlepu (Left) and Mr Sobantu Tilayi (second left) and Port St Johns mayor, Ms Lindelwa Rolobile. during a lifesaving demonstration that was part of the day’s activities in the town of Port St Johns. Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns: 28 September 2017

The development of South Africa’s maritime sector is now formally in full swing under the banner of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative, with billions of rand of State funds currently being invested in particularly ports and related infrastructure.

DSC_1335.JPGHowever, now absolutely crucial is a need to ensure that all South Africans are on board and involved, and central to strategy is a need to both broaden and entrench fully education and skills development of especially the young, Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Masangwanyi told hundreds of people – among them 400 high school children – attending this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns, Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns, a little town settled in a picturesque area of South Africa’s Wild Coast along the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban, was chosen by the Department of Transport for this year’s observation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) driven World Maritime Day on September 28 for a number of reasons.

IMG_6162Among these is that the town symbolizes one of the most under-developed areas of South Africa settled along the country’s 3200 km long coastline. It used to fall under the jurisdiction of the former Transkei homeland or Bantustan whose development was simply ignored by the apartheid government.

The town is now among coastal areas of the country earmarked earlier this year as part of a coastal and marine tourism initiative for a rapid development plan over five years beginning in 2017.

Port St Johns also falls under the O.R Tambo District Municipality which is home to former African National Congress president, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo whose contribution to the country’s liberation struggle is being celebrated in 2017.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (centre in yellow jacket) and his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (in floral dress)  posing for a photograph with State officials and youths recently trained as lifeguards through a SAMSA driven marine skills development programme for youths of Port St Johns and the O.R Tambo District Municipality. The youths were awarded their certificates during the celebration of World Maritime Day 2017 held in the town on Thursday.

The World Maritime Day event held in the town on Thursday (28 September) was the second of its kind with an international maritime theme to be held in the region, the first having been the international Seafarers’ Day held in Mbizana in June.

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Some of the high school children from the O.R Tambo District Municipality region that attended Thursday’s celebration of the international World Maritime Day in Port St Johns on Thursday

Also preceding the event were a number of marine skills and related project targeting close on 300 youths from the region since June this year.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) driven initiatives included a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for youths keen on working on cruise vessels; a Corporate Social Investment Youth Skills project for youths keen on sea diving, life-guarding and related), a Coastal and Marine Tourism initiative aimed at facilitating infrastructure development and enhancement, job creation and entrepreneurship.

DSC_1280.JPGAt Thursday’s event, Mr Masangwanyi said these maritime sector related initiatives were a clear indication of Government’s expressed commitment to driving new investment into areas that are both underdeveloped and with great potential to contribute to the country’s economy through business investment and job creation.

According to Mr Masangwanyi, there is no longer a reason why populations of people living in the country’s coastal provinces (Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) should not be in the lead in the development of the country’s maritime economic sector.

Infrastructure development, education and skills development would be the key drivers for investment; he said.

 “Government has identified the maritime sector as an important sector of the country’s economy

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Some of the 400 high school youths who received maritime education and training guide brochures during this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns on Thursday (28 September 2017).

“Various ports across the country are receiving billions of rand in investment to enhance their capacity – facts of which will be fully revealed when President Jacob Zuma reports to the nation about the progress of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) in Durban next month.

“We are not going to leave behind Port St Johns. Among highlights of projects in the area is the expansion of the N2 and which will formally link the town of Port St Johns to increased road traffic between the major cities of East London and Durban. As much as R8-billion is being invested in the Wild Coast road construction project.

“The cabinet has approved the comprehensive maritime transport policy, it provides further opportunity for investment in the country’s maritime transport sector.

“This welcome development indicates that as a country, we cannot remain consumers of maritime services of other countries while we have such coastal heritage.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi and deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga preparing to handover certificates to newly trained Port St Johns youths equipped with life guarding and deep sea diving skills.

“Gone are the days when our people are consumers. Now is the time that our people should also contribute to productions of services. Gone are the days when our oceans are dominated by big shipping companies from Europe, America and Asia. Now is the time that vessels should be owned and operated by South Africans and in the main, Africans.

“Through the maritime transport and manufacturing projects we will create between 40-56 000 job opportunities, whereby our people will be involved in maritime construction, telecommunication technologies and equipment manufacturing. These will contribute between R21-25-billion to the economy of South Africa. In order achieve these goals within the set timeframes, it cannot be business as usual,” he said.

To listen to his full speech (about 20 minutes) Click on the video below.