SA’s dedicated cadet training vessel, SA Agulhas; sails yet again deep into the Antarctica for research and training

BREAKING RECORD: The SA Agulhas, South Africa's dedicated cadet training vessel under the command of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in the icy Prydz Bay approaching the southern sea line with the Antartica region on Monday. The vessel is on a scientific cruise and training expedition between Mauritius and Antartica
BREAKING RECORD: The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel under the command of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in the icy Prydz Bay approaching the southern sea line with the Antarctica region on Monday. The vessel is on a scientific cruise and training expedition between Mauritius and Antarctica since December 2016.

Pretoria: 01 February 2017

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s only dedicated cadet training vessel under command of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has clocked yet another milestone after reaching its half-way point on Monday in a research survey expedition to the ice cordoned southern seas of the Antarctica, a journey that began just before Christmas last year.

sa-agulhas-2655m-from-sa-2017-01-31_095321Excited officials on board the vessel, among them a group of scientists from India and about 30 South African youths on cadet training, beamed back home a series of photographs of their half-way point journey, indicating the smooth track of the research expedition since about a month ago.

The SA Agulhas left Cape Town 48 days ago on Wednesday (December 14, 2016), headed for Port Louis in Mauritius where she took on board a group of Indian scientists that are part of the research expedition before she headed south towards the Antarctica – precisely the 68th parallel, a circle of latitude that crosses the southern ocean and Antarctica.

img_20170130_132803In the area and along the route, she’d carry out survey work expected to take a few weeks into later this month. On Monday this week, she reached the halfway point from which she will then turn around and head back to Mauritius.

Officers on board beamed the first photographs of the research and training vessel’s encounter with the icy conditions of the region. At the time of the encounter with icy conditions, according to Roland Shortt, Operations Manager/DPA for Maritime Special Projects at SAMSA Cape Town office, the vessel was located in Prydz Bay.

It is the research and dedicated training vessel’s first long journey on otherwise familiar territory around the Antarctica in more than two years – an intervening period she’d been devoted strictly to cadet training and skills development by SAMSA while occasionally anchoring at Quay 500 at the port of Cape Town.

The cadet programme she is still engaged in is now managed by newly established South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, situated in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training through the National Skills Fund.

agulhas-dec-2016-22
The group of South African seafarer trainees (23 deck and 7 engine cadets) on board the SA Agulhas on its current Antarctica research and training expedition.

As it were, on departure in December, the vessel had as part of its crew on board as many as 30 cadets in two groups; 23 Deck and seven (7) Engine cadets under the command of Master Mariner Captain D. Postman, Chief Engineer, D Jennings, assisted by Senior Deck Training Officer, Merwyn Pieters and Deck Training Officer, S. Paulse.

According to the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) charged along with Marine Crew Services) with management of the training, since sailing off from Cape Town to Mauritius and from Mauritius to the Antarctic region, the cadets in their respective groups – the Deck cadets split into groups of four (4) for rotation every seven (7) days – have been involved in extensive training arranged in four week cycles.

dsc04890SAMTRA says the seafarer skills development initiative on board the SA Agulhas, in both lecturer format and practical engagement, encompasses Seamanship, Navigation, Bridge Watch and Deck Maintenance, complimented by a range of practical activities intended to both familiarize them in real time with a vessel design and mechanics through to its management under a variety of sea conditions.

The cadets will have four months of intensive hands-on and theoretical training while on board, required to clock up to about 32 hours of lectures a week on board, in addition to project and practical work, according Mr Pieters. This will be achieved due partly to the fact that none of the training is obstructive on board the vessel as the SA Agulhas features a world class simulator enabling exercises to be conducted without interfering with the operations of the vessel.

According to SAMTRA, those who successfully complete the fast-track training programme on board will need to complete another 20 months on board trading vessels before they can sit for their oral exams to complete their qualification, the Certificate of Competency (CoC) issued by SAMSA in terms of the international convention on Standards on Training, Certification and Watch-Keeping (STCW).

The research and training expedition is expected to be completed mid-way through February, with the SA Agulhas expected due back at Port Louis on about February 26, and back in Cape Town sometime midway through March.

On receiving the news Tuesday of the SA Agulhas having reached its half-way point on the journey by entering the Antarctica ice passage, SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi shared a congratulatory message with all the organization’s personnel involved with arrangements of the expedition applauding them for their contributions.
End

SAMSA to speed up issuing of seafarer’s certificates as it irons out IT glitches

Centre for Seafarers commits to meeting December 2016 deadline with new version certificates

IMG_4747

Pretoria: 04 July 2016

Hiccups experienced over the past few weeks with the issuance of newly revised seafarer certificates should soon be history following to anticipated successful upgrade of software systems, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said in Pretoria on Monday.

SAMSA’s Chief Examiner at the Centre for Seafarers, Captain Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi said delays were experienced due to information technology infrastructure problems and quality assurance issues, leading to backlogs in the issuance of seafarer certificates.

The revised certificates covering a whole range of seafarer skills levels are being issued in terms of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Manila Amendments) effective from May 2016.

 In terms of these, all certificates issued by SAMSA prior to the Manila Amendments, in terms of The Merchant Shipping (Training and Certification) Regulations (1999 as amended) would expire at the end of 2016.

20150909_101517_1A Marine Notice (No.24 of 2016) to the effect was published by SAMSA on 24 May 2016, advising all affected parties of the need for affected band of seafarers to renew or revalidate their certificates prior to their expiry date on 31 December 2016.

According to the notice (available on SAMSA’s website) applicants could use any number of ways to lodge their applications including delivering them in person or via a proxy to any of SAMSA’s offices countrywide, or filing their application online especially if they are out at sea or abroad.

At the time of the issuance of the Marine Notice, SAMSA anticipated issuing out as a matter of top priority, as many as 2300 Certificates of Competency and about 4000 Certificates of Proficiency compliant with the new Manila Amendments by December 2016.

This would be followed in sequence by as many as 5000 local certificates for fishing and port operations

On Monday, Captain Mulaudzi said a few hundred applications had been received from seafarers since publication of the Marine Notice, but then SAMSA’s IT infrastructure ‘hit a snag’ that had led to “frustrating” delays in the roll out of new certificates.

Captain Mulaudzi said SAMSA had noted reports that some employers had begun to place on unpaid leave seafarers who were affected by the delays.

“SAMSA’s Centre for Seafarers would like to update the South African seafarers, including foreign seafarers holding South African certificates, on the progress being made in issuing their certificates.

IMG_4707 (2)“SAMSA is mindful of the fact that it is six months to go to the deadline set in the STCW Convention in the issuing of the new Manila Compliant Certificates. We are also aware of the seafarers who have applied for their certificates more than two months ago and have yet to receive them. We are also concerned about reports that employers are starting to place seafarers on unpaid leave if they are not holding these certificates.

“We would like to assure fellow seafarers that every effort is being made to ensure that no seafarer is further disadvantaged by the delays we are experiencing. Being mindful that this has become an urgent matter to all seafarers, SAMSA will, in the interim be prioritizing certificates for those seafarers who are being placed on unpaid leave.

“Seafarers who are facing loss of income during the month of July 2016 should inform the SAMSA office where they made their applications. The relevant office will advise the Chief Examiner and the Registrar of Seafarers, to prioritize the certificates of those seafarers. SAMSA will then be able to increase the priority of that application,” said Captain Mulaudzi.

He further issued and assurance that the backlog will be cleared by the end of July 2016. However, for those seeking any further clarity or wishing simply to make an inquiry, they may direct these to the following:

  1. SAMSA Media and Communications officer Tebogo Ramatjie, or
  2. Chief Examiner at amulaudzi@samsa.org.za or 012 366 4783, or
  3. The Registrar of Seafarers at pmooketsi@samsa.org.za or 012 366 2633
  4. Seafarers are also encouraged to communicate all their queries to exams@samsa.org.za

End

Newly designed SAMSA certificates find proud owners

Pretoria: 20 June 2016

IMG_4747
COMPETENCY CONFIRMED: (From Left) Mr Ryan Smith, Chief Navigating Officer at Smit Amandla Marine in Cape Town receiving recently his copy of the newly designed SAMSA Certificate of Competence from Captain Antoinette Keller, Deputy Principal Officer for the SAMSA Cape Town Office.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) issued newly designed Certificate of Competence for seafarers has begun finding home with the country’s sailors and who are simply almost wholly impressed with its features. The CoC is one of two newly designed certificates launched by the organization a month ago.

IMG_4705 (2)IMG_4707 (2)Modeled on South Africa’s Passport with intricate security features, the new certificates according to SAMSA’s Centre for Seafarers,  are in compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and the Merchant Shipping (Safe Manning, Training and Certification) Regulations, 2013, as amended (MS (SMTC) Regulations, 2013.

Chief Examiner at the Centre for Seafarers, Captain Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi says the STCW Convention is one of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) cornerstone convention.

“It is a comprehensive set of international regulations intended to ensure that the highest standards of seafarer competence are maintained globally. The STCW 2010 amendments are intended to ensure that STCW standards stay relevant, so that seafarers can continue to develop and maintain their professional skills,” says Captain Mulaudzi.

IMG_6394To produce the new certificates featuring a set of new intricate security measures – inclusive of a watermark with the SAMSA logo; a background watermark featuring a South African Vessel which is visible when the document is held to the light, as well as hidden elements such as invisible ink and micro-printed text – SAMSA worked closely with the Government Printing Works (GPW.

According to Captain Mulaudzi: “These are all intended to prevent tampering, alteration, forgery and to allow for easy recognition of the genuine items and also to ensure that seafarers’ identities are protected.”

The first proud sailor to lay claim to the new CoC earlier this month is Ryan Smith, a Chief Navigating Officer (<3000GT>) at Smit Amanda Marine in Cape Town, a company he has been with since about 13 years ago.

Smith, a graduate of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and a seafarer who has gone through the ranks on board various scientific research vessels managed and operated by Smit Amanda Marine, as well as the Offshore Division of the company involving various Offshore Tugs, said he was impressed with the overall layout of the new CoC.

“The layout of the new COC is more refined and substantially simplified, with useful additional general information notes at the rear of the booklet,” said Smith.

Being the first seafarer in the country to lay claim to the new CoC will remain a matter of pride for him for a while yet, he mused.

Of his now over a decade old career at sea, Smith quipped: “My most memorable moment in my short career thus far was the salvage of the jack-up rig, Perro Negro 6 which capsized off Angola. At this time I was serving onboard the AHTS Smit Madura, under the command of Captain Toralf Grapow, my friend and mentor, and coincidentally the Master of the very first vessel I joined as a cadet!”

Meanwhile, according to Captain Pierre Schutz, a deputy Principal Officer and a chief examiner (deck) at SAMSA’s Cape Town office, one or two other sailors have since collected theirs as well.

 End