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.
The 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.
Young cadets returning from a three months sojourn into the Antarctica in 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“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
South Africa’s recently developed maritime research and innovation road map is anticipated to be among highlights at this year’s South Africa-Norway Science Week scheduled for Pretoria and Cape Town at month end.
The inaugural event to be held in Pretoria on Monday 31 October before moving to Cape Town from Tuesday to Friday (November 01-04, 2016), is a joint initiative between the South Africa and Norway governments. Its aim is to provide a platform for exploration of opportunities for cooperation in education, research and new business development.
This week, in the video below, Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen gave a broad, insightful overview of the event, and about which she said her country was very excited to be part of.
South Africa, a maritime country that doesn’t know it!
For South Africa which has worked closely with Norway on particularly research collaboration on a range of fields since launch of the South Africa-Norway Programme on Research Cooperation 15 years ago; the Science Week 2016 event is said set to provide opportunity for the country to share its recently developed marine and maritime sector research and innovation roadmap.
Funded by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) under the Department of Transport, with partners inclusive of the Department of Science and Technology, and compiled by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) the roadmap document in a book format titled A Research, Innovation and Knowledge Management Road Map for the South African Maritime Sector – Charting a Road to Maritime Excellence by 2030, was published earlier this year following to a lengthy, intensive consultative process involving no less than 400 stakeholders in the country’s maritime sector.
According to editors – all researchers at the CSIR’s Natural Resources and Environment division – Nikki Funke, Marius Classen, Richard Meisser and Karen Nortjie; development of the roadmap was in response to an expressed urgent need for coordinated guidance into research needs in the country’s maritime and marine environments.
According to the researchers, South Africa has 3924 kms of coastline and a “sea-land” area – known as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – that is three times bigger than its land size (at 1.5-million square kilometers). The country is also positioned on a major shipping route and has eight commercial ports and 44 non-commercial harbours.
Currently, 58% of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) is based on trade and 98% of South Africa’s trade volume moves by ships. In addition, the country generates a significant 3.5% of the world’s seaborne trade volume.
However, in spite of these impressive numbers and with 30% of South Africa’s population living on the coast, many South Africans generally do not recognise their country as a maritime nation.
“In order to provide a mechanism through which…. critical questions can be answered, SAMSA, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), appointed the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to facilitate the process of developing a National Research, Innovation and Knowledge Management Road Map for the South African maritime.
“The Maritime Road Map presents a vision for the maritime sector, which is for South Africa to be globally recognized as a maritime nation by 2030. The Maritime Road Map subsequently identifies eight key objectives, which, together with a set of core research, innovation and knowledge management-focused actions per objective, serve to enable the maritime sector to chart a course to maritime excellence in South Africa.
“The Maritime Road Map therefore sets the agenda for the research, innovation and knowledge management needs for the maritime sector and maps out the direction the maritime sector is required to take in order to address these needs,” so state the editors.
Funke et al further state that the Maritime Road Map is also crucially relevant to the country’s maritime economic sector rejuvenation and repositioning under the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) project launched two years ago and through which the country’s oceans are estimated able to generate up to R 177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2033 – more than three times the rate of contribution generated by the sector in 2010. As many as 22 000 new direct jobs are projected for 2019 with the figure anticipated to rise to between 800 000 and 1-million new jobs in 2033.
The Maritime Road Map according to the editors, has its scope spread between both the maritime and marine domains, with thematic areas defining the scope involving precisely shipping and transport, marine resources, coast and marine tourism and marine protection services and governance.
As many as 300 guests are expected to attend the South Africa-Norway Science Week 2016 from October 31 to November 04, with a sizeable number of these being from overseas countries including Norway and France.
Keynote speakers will include Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor.