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.

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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.
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Double digit increase in maritime sector budget allocation is a sign of Government commitment

A commercial cargo vessel entering the port of Port Elizabeth in May 2016.
A commercial cargo vessel entering the port of Port Elizabeth in May 2016.

Pretoria: 03 June 2016

A double-digit increase in the budget allocation by the Department of Transport for maritime sector development in the 2016/17 financial year is yet another signal of Government’s commitment and determination to strengthen focus on the important sector of the country’s economy.

Championing South Africa maritime economic sector skills development: Transport Minister Ms Dipuo Peters with the country's first group of cadets taken on board Vuka Marine's commercial cargo vessel, the Cape Orchid for a six months sea based training.
Championing South Africa maritime economic sector skills development: Transport Minister Ms Dipuo Peters with the country’s first group of cadets taken on board Vuka Marine’s commercial cargo vessel, the Cape Orchid for a six months sea based training.

In her budget vote for the 2016/17 financial year presented to Parliament recently, Minister of Transport Ms Dipuo Peters said that the maritime sector’s budget allocation had been raised from R111-million in the previous year to R122-million in the current, an increase of 10%.

This was more than twice the increase the Department of Transport received for its total budget, which rose about 4% from R53.5-billion in the previous year to R56-billion in the 2016/16 financial year.

Naturally, the bulk of the department’s budget allocation went to road transport (R24.7-billion), rail transport (R19-billion), public transport (R11.7-billion), with civil aviation and maritime allocated R253-million and R122-million respectively.

The figures reflect increases of approximately nine (9) percent for road transport, four (4) percent for rail transport, two (2) percent for public transport, 69% for civil aviation and 10% for maritime sector.

According to Ms Peters in her budget vote on May 10, the double-digit budget increase in the allocation to the maritime sector reflects the increasing focus the country now has on development of the sector for transformation and formal integration in the main economy.

logo1She noted specifically the role played by the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in this regard and whose visionary and pioneering role over the last few years had contributed immensely to among others things, the launch of Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy and the latter whose six labs are currently at work developing focused strategies for rapid development of the sector.

Ms Peters told Parliament that: “Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow South Africans; in the last two years the country increased its focus on the opportunities our more 3000km of coastline provide when Operation Phakisa; Oceans Economy was launched.

“This then called for the DoT and other departments to align strategic, legislative, policy and regulatory frameworks. This was done both for governance and economic reasons.

“The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has wasted no time in embracing this groundbreaking economic stream.

SAIMI letterhead“SAMSA has struck a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the Department of Higher Education in a National Cadetship Programme. This has resulted in one hundred and twenty-four (124) cadets being placed on eighteen (18) partner vessels.”

She further noted that the establishment of the country’s Ports Regulator had begun to make positive impacts, noting that: “A strategy to make doing business with our South African ports attractive, has seen zero percent (0%) increase on all cargo dues – thanks to the Ports Regulator South Africa. In support of drought relief and its impact on food prices, maize cargo dues for the first 5 million tons will be discounted by 50% in 2016/17 financial year.”

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Former SAMSA top executive honoured

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) dedicates its Resource Centre to former executive in recognition of her sterling contribution to development of country’s maritime economic sector.

Pretoria: 22 April 2016

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The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) wound down a period of mourning with a moving tribute to its former executive and highly recognized figure in the country’s maritime and tourism sectors, the late Ms Sindiswa Carol Nhlumayo, at its head office in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The official 40 days of mourning having ended a few weeks ago, on Wednesday, the organization bestowed an honour of remembrance on Ms Nhlumayo by naming a section of its office building, a resources space and library located centre of the ground floor of the multi-story building, parallel the main entrance, in her name.

Entrance to SAMSA's Resource Centre named after former executive manager, Ms Sindiswa C. Nhlumayo in honour and recognition of her contribution to both the organisation and the country's maritime economic sector development, at an event held at the SAMSA offices in Pretoria
Entrance to SAMSA’s Resource Centre named after former executive manager, Ms Sindiswa C. Nhlumayo in honour and recognition of her contribution to both the organisation and the country’s maritime economic sector development, at an event held at the SAMSA offices in Pretoria

A section of the dedicated library and resources centre, fairly modest in size, features among other things, memorabilia items inclusive of a series of Ms Nhlumayo’s photos of meetings, media engagements, tours and conference addresses in South Africa, the rest of the African continent and the rest of the world; tribute messages packaged in book form and frames, as well a .collection of her own books and writings

Ms Nhlumayo (40), an Executive Head of SAMSA’s Centre for Maritime Excellence, a division largely responsible for SAMSA’s discharge of responsibilities attaching to its third legislative mandate – the promotion of South Africa’s maritime interests – passed away on 11 February 2016 after a gutsy battle with cancer.

Her death has been mourned across both the public and private sectors inclusive of educational institutions associated with the maritime economic sector in South Africa and abroad.

At the time, the Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal born Ms Nhlumayo; widely recognized for what’s described as a massive contribution towards particularly the country’s tourism and maritime economic sectors, with passionate focus on skills development, had just been conferred the esteemed “Business Leader of the Year Award 2015” by the Institute of People Management in addition to several other awards she’d earned for her dedication and focus to her work.

She was in the process of completing her doctoral studies in maritime economy with the World Maritime University based in Sweden – an institution in which she’s almost single-handedly also helped place more than 100 South African students also pursuing Masters and Doctoral level studies in the maritime field.

The Sindiswa Nhlumayo Resource Centre will feature memorabilia of Ms Nhlumayo's works across fields inclusive of education, her academic papers, books and related.
The Sindiswa Nhlumayo Resource Centre will feature memorabilia of Ms Nhlumayo’s works across fields inclusive of education, her academic papers, books and related.

At this week’s brief and almost casual ceremony, and to which both her family members and her friends, as well as former associates of varied occupations were invited along with SAMSA executives and staff members, SAMSA CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele noted that it was the first time ever that the organization had bestowed such an honour to a past employee.

It has arisen after much deliberation, and during which it had been deemed appropriate as relevant to and in recognition and acknowledgment of the massive contribution Ms Nhlumayo had made both to the country as well as the organization and for which SAMSA was recognized with a ‘Legends of Empowerment and Transformation’ award at the 2016 Oliver Awards a week ago.

Mr Mokhele said the decision to honour Ms Nhlumayo, deliberated upon and agreed with staff;  was undertaken on the one hand as a gesture of goodwill primarily to indicate and illustrate the importance for institutions and society at large to openly, honestly give recognition to contribution made by others, especially such contribution as having clearly impacted positively the lives of others.

Part of the guests that attended the ceremony on Wednesday, among them senior executives of SAMSA, maritime, tourism, education and related sectors' representatives, as well as family members and friends.
Part of the guests that attended the ceremony on Wednesday, among them senior executives of SAMSA, maritime, tourism, education and related sectors’ representatives, as well as family members and friends.

On the other hand, Mr Mokhele said the gesture of a 40 day mourning period would now be standard for all other SAMSA employees as both an incentive and empowerment tool encompassing the inculcation of a culture of high work ethic in their respective areas of specialization.

He said organizations across various sectors of society were not independent of the people that worked in and for them, and whose work should never require little more than tolerance indicative of detachment.

“Among ourselves as management and staff, we said the new standard for SAMSA going forward would be that, in the event of the passing on of any one of our colleagues, the 40 days of mourning will stand, and it’s now up to all people who are here (at SAMSA) to make sure we don’t spend 40 days of mourning without remembering anything about a person. We want to spend the 40 days just reflecting about their own contribution for its high worth value, and that is the challenge we are all now sitting with, arising out of the contribution of one individual.

HONOURED: Former SAMSA Executive Head of the Centre for Maritime Excellence, Ms Sindiswa C. Nhlumayo
HONOURED: Former SAMSA Executive Head of the Centre for Maritime Excellence, Ms Sindiswa C. Nhlumayo

“I do not know how practically it’s going to be, but I do know that we’ve challenged ourselves strongly so that we can build a much more humane organization, and it arises out of the memory of one individual.  That to me is a living legacy that makes people passionate and view things from many dimensions over a much longer period of time.”

Mr Mokhele revealed that the steering committee of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University was also considering giving recognition to Ms Nhlumayo’s contribution and was currently weighing up ideas. At its next meeting in about two weeks’ time, the committee might take the matter forward possibly with some concrete plans.

For Mr Mokhele’ edited remarks as well as visuals of the ceremony on Wednesday afternoon click here:

Meanwhile, several guests applauded SAMSA for the initiative, with a consensus view that it was deserving of Ms Nhlumayo’s memory.

For their respective remarks, please click here:

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Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) in the national spotlight in Eastern Cape on Friday

South Africa President Jacob Zuma to formally unveil the plaque of the launch of the SA International Maritime Institute in Port Elizabeth on Friday

Port Elizabeth: 07 April 2016

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Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) Progress Report: Part of the port of Port Elizabeth under the spotlight on Friday

Progress achieved to date on the launch and implementation of Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) comes under national spotlight in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on Friday where South Africa President Jacob Zuma and some national and provincial government ministers hosts a function to provide feedback.

President Jacob Zuma is scheduled for the city Friday morning, flanked by among others, national Minister of Public Enterprises, Ms Lynne Brown, Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masaulle and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality Mayor, Danny Jordaan.

Preliminary information indicates that highlights of the event will include a government tour of port infrastructure developments at the  Port Elizabeth harbour early Friday.

This will be followed later in the day with a formal first visit by the President to the recently established South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), currently housed at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitican University’s Bird Street Campus.

SAIMI, an initiative of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), in partnership with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), was founded in late 2014  as a vehicle to promote and coordinate maritime education, skills development and research to support South Africa in harnessing the potential of its mostly untapped maritime resources.

Also, Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy), the country’s most comprehensive maritime economy development focused programme was launched formally in 2014, with at least six subsectors of the maritime economic sector identified for specific focus for development investment in the following five years.

These comprise the Marine Transport and Manufacturing; Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration; Aquaculture; Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance; Small Harbours Development; and  Marine Tourism and Leisure.

The event in Port Elizabeth tomorrow starts early, preceded by a national report possibly to be televised live.

The SAMSA blog will keep you updated on the event in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.