Maritime cadets set sail from Cape Town

2012-11-02 15:53
The SA Agulhas (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The SA Agulhas (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Forty maritime cadets set sail from Cape Town on Friday on an intrepid journey that will include sailing the icy waters of Antarctica.

Deputy Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga and others stood at Jetty 2 in the harbour to bid farewell to the cadets on board the SA Dedicated Training Vessel, formerly known as the SA Agulhas.

The ship used to transport polar supplies until it retired in April to make way for a more modern vessel, SA Agulhas II.

It was transferred from the environmental affairs department to the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) for training purposes.

Where it will go

A marching band set a jolly mood against a backdrop of a wind-free and sunny day in the mother city.

The vessel will stop in Namibia, Ghana, and Cote D' Ivoire, to pick up a further batch of least 10 cadets.

It will then dock at Canary Wharf in London to pick up scientists and supplies for the Antarctica mission before returning to Cape Town.

It will set sail for Antarctica in January 2013 to drop off the scientists in preparation for the first-ever winter crossing of the continent on foot, described as "the coldest journey on Earth".

The research topic is suitably described as "extreme weather conditions of the Antarctic".

The cadets on board are maritime studies graduates of the Durban and Cape Town Universities of Technology.

At least a year's training at sea is compulsory for those wishing to move up the ranks.

Samsa CEO Tsietsi Mokhele said the training formed part of the maritime skills development programme.

The goal was to increase the number of qualified officers from 120 a year to between 1 200 and 1 600 officers a year, he said.

An alternative source of seafarers

There are around 1.5 million skilled seafarers in the world.

Chikunga said South Africa contributed less than 2 000 seafarers to 50 000 marine engineers and deck officers who called on local ports.

"South Africa has 12 000 port calls per annum and some 260 000 seafarers work on the vessels that call on us."

She said the goal was to position South Africa as an alternative source of seafarers.

"The voyage itself allows us to train our cadets who need to be able to navigate the world's waters, as well as the speciality of navigating the icy waters of Antarctica; a very rare opportunity, even to seasoned seafarers."
Read more on:    cape town  |  maritime

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