CAPE TOWN: 04 December 2017
As many as 47 scientists from the Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research will rendezvous with the SA Agulhas, South Africa’s research and dedicated cadet training vessel in Mauritius on Monday after the vessel docked at the port of Port Louis early on Monday.
The group of scientists will join the vessel’s 37 member crew and 20 of which sailors are newly minted cadets of the South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) undergoing their first training on board the vessel, on their first ever visit to the Antarctica where the vessel is headed.
SAIMI, based at the Nelson Mandela University, is responsible for the country’s Cadet Training Programme.
The SA crew sailed from South Africa’s shores on the afternoon of the 24th November 2017 for Port Louis in Mauritius under the command of Captain M. Barnes who is accompanied by two dedicated training officers entrusted with ensuring that the training objectives for the cadets are realized. The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) is in charge of the training on board the vessel.
According to SAIMI in a statement on Monday, as with the last similar scientific research and cadet training sojourn into the ‘end of the world’ undertaken at the same time in 2016/17, from Mauritius the contingent will, in a day or two, head down to Antarctica where the cadets will be spending the Christmas period as part of their compulsory on-board training before they can qualify as deck and engineering officers.
The vessel under charter from its owner, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), will spend time on the 68th parallel, which marks the start of the permanent ice cap.
SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said in a statement in Mandela Bay on Monday: “This is the second year that the vessel has been chartered by India’s National Centre for Antarctic Research for a multi-disciplinary scientific expendition, and this provided the added opportunity for a training voyage.
“During the voyage the cadets will have a combination of on-board lectures and gain experience working on watches and assisting the crew. They will also be able to watch the Indian scientists, who are studying currents and weather patterns, in action.”
According to Prof Pourzanjani, the group of sailors and scientists are expected to reach Antarctica in around three weeks.
SAIMI profiled the cadets as aged from 20-27, consisting of eight females and 12 males and 19 of whom are being trained as deck cadets and one as an engine cadet. They were drawn from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Durban University of Technology.
Captain Merwyn Pieters and Steven Paulse will manage the training.