SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel enthralls crowds at EL port festival

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Fireworks exploding in the backdrop of the SA Agulhas at the port of East London this past weekend to mark the end of a highly successful port festival hosted by the Transnet National Ports Authority together with partners including the Buffalo City local authority

Pretoria: 29 June 2017

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, yet again became one of the star attractions at this year’s East London port festival, this barely three months after it had become a major drawcard in another of Transnet’s 2017 Eastern Cape ports festivals held in Port Elizabeth.

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In Port Elizabeth at the end of March, the vessel had just returned from a three months research and training expedition with a group of Indian scientists who’d taken it, along with about 30 South African cadets, to Antarctica.

So it had been in international news headlines leading up to the first of the two port festivals, with thousands of local people in the Port Elizabeth region keen to get on board and view it.

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The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel docked at the port of East London this past weekend while partaking in the Transnet National Ports Authority East London port festival

In East London this past weekend, as it turned out, the public curiosity seemed to not have waned at all as thousands of revelers – estimated at about 23 000 – thronged the vessel during the three day event.

The SA Agulhas, owned by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and now utilised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, is the country’s only dedicated vessel for the development of seafarers since about six years ago.

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Port festival goers at the port of East London milling around on board the SA Agulhas over two days this past weekend.

It was brought into the service to address in part, the shortage of berths highly necessary for students at universities keen on completing their seafarer training through practical work on vessels at sea.

Since coming into service for the purpose, the vessel has since seen hundreds of young people, male and female, from South Africa and other African countries being taken through the processes that has seen many acquire the practical and work experience necessary to enhance their skills as seafarers.

East London Port Festival A Great Success 3

For East London last weekend, the port festival was returning to the Eastern Cape’s second biggest port city for the first time in five years and according to organizers, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and partners, the intention was to give public exposure and enhance greater interaction between the public and the country’s ports infrastructure and facilities.

Phyllis Difeto, TNPA Chief Operating Officer, said the festival had an underlying strategic focus involving maritime sector related programmes such as the national Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) initiative that seeks to drive economic development, job creation and skills development

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Festival goers at the past weekend’s port of East London port festival being taken briefed in small groups on the nature and function of the SA Agulhas as a dedicated cadet training vessel.

“We want to promote awareness of the ports, recreational opportunities, and career and business opportunities offered by the maritime industry. We want our communities to experience the unique operations in the port, and its exciting people-centred vision,” she said.

Other attractions of the port festival over two days included an SA Navy frigate – the SAS Spioenkop, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DAFF) rnvironmental offshore patrol vessel, the Victoria Mxege,  an arts & crafts market and  a wide variety of food stalls, a maritime exhibition including career opportunities, tug rides and family ferry rides, extreme bungee (50m freefall) thrills, helicopter flips  and beer garden with live bands.

For more on the TNPA’s port of East London festival, Click Here

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Engine damaged vessel successfully rescued, docked in East London Friday.

BBC Shanghai: An Update

Pretoria: 17 March 2017

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A Antiqua Barbuda registered vessel that suffered engine trouble and risked running aground off the eastern coast of South Africa near Mbhashe on Wednesday evening has been successfully rescued and docked at the port of East London early on Friday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed.

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For illustration only. One of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) tugs – this one, the Qunu, located at the port of Port Elizabeth.

Captain Daron Burgess, technical manager for SAMSA’s southern region in Port Elizabeth said a Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) tug, SHASA; hooked up with the vessel shortly after 20h00 lon Thursday night off Mbashe Point and towed it to the port of East London. “They arrived at East London port at 05h30 this morning,” he said.

The successful rescue followed a dramatic and tense 56 hours after the vessel – a 4 900 tonne general cargo ship named BBC Shanghai, registered in Antiqua Barbuda – reported being in trouble with its engines while sailing off the Indian Ocean about a few hundred nautical miles south of Port St Johns towards East London in the Eastern Cape.

At the time,  the vessel’s position was at 21h48LT , 22.8NM east of Mbashe Point, south of Port St Johns. The BBC Shangai was believed to be travelling from Durban to Lagos in Nigeria. It had left the port of Durban on Monday and was scheduled for Lagos on or about 28 March.

After receiving a distress call, the Cape Town based SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center (MRCC) immediately mobilized support and rescue for the stricken vessels, while efforts were also made to ensure  safety of its crew and cargo – the latter, to guard against possible spillages that would lead to ocean environmental degradation.

The situation remained under firm control on Friday while the vessel on tow of the TNPA tug, berthed at the port of East London.

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Arrested Chinese fishing trawlers in South Africa released

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Pretoria: 24 June 2016

Three Chinese vessels that were arrested and detained in South Africa have been released, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed on Friday.

The release this week, just over month after the vessels were arrested off the coast of South Africa in the Indian Ocean and detained at the port of East London, occurred after they had fulfilled all requirements.

Captain Nigel Campbell, executive head of SAMSA’s Centre for Shipping and regional manager for SAMSA’s Southern region, said that the requirements included repairs to certain equipment on board the vessels that had been deemed to have posed a threat to the environment, as well as the lodging of deposits for Admission of Contraventions of pollution legislation

According to SAMSA, based on its own investigation; the vessels faced charges by the ocean safety watchdog relating to, among other things; an absence of oil record books, and non-maintenance of certain other equipment essential for the safe operation of the vessels.

On Friday SAMSA said all the issues were eventually sorted out to its satisfaction and the vessels, with its crew of about 96 people were given permission to sail away.

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