SA Agulhas on maiden training mission

2012-11-02 11:20
Cadets listen to Samsa CEO, Commander Tsietsi Moheleke at the Cape Town V&A Waterfront. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cadets listen to Samsa CEO, Commander Tsietsi Moheleke at the Cape Town V&A Waterfront. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The research vessel SA Agulhas, repurposed as a dedicated training vessel left Cape Town on Friday with its first batch of cadets.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) has taken transfer of the 30 year old ship from the department of environmental affairs and is using it to conduct practical training for cadets.

"It's a working vessel; it's a training vessel. The more we keep it in trade, the better for us. It means we can raise funding which we can use for our people," Samsa CEO, Commander Tsietsi Moheleke told News24.

The training mission forms part of the programme to up-skill seafarers so that South Africans can perform as officers aboard international ships.

"The dedicated training vessel is departing on a mission that has three pillars: The first pillar is scientific research, the second is pillar is a charitable cause, and the third one is education and training," said Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga, deputy minister of transport at the event to send off the first cadets.

Skills

Samsa said that skills are critical to expanding South Africa's maritime footprint.

"There is no shortage of funding or capacity - there is a shortage of leadership. With leadership, we found the vessel; we found the funding," said Moheleke.

Samsa has signed a contract with the Commonwealth until 2014 to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee. The vessel will travel to Ghana, London and then to Antarctica to drop off researchers.

The trip would serve to advertise the cadets' capabilities to international shipping lines and SA is determined to engage with companies over the skills that the training had instilled.

"We are going to be talking to many shipping lines saying to them: 'These are the ones you can talk to; these are the ones we have, and we have more where these come from,'" Moheleke said.

Most of the cadets completed their training at the Durban and Cape Town Universities of Technology and will complement the 40 junior officers who graduated in the last six months and are already in service on international ships.

Moheleke said that job creation was a priority.

"We need to create an environment where any kid who wants employment must find that opportunity."


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