News24

Saint to captain RMS St Helena

2000-09-05 15:52

Cape Town - Captain Rodney Young has been appointed as Master of the Royal Mail Ship St Helena making him the first Saint Helenian to command the vessel, Curnow Shipping announced at the weekend.

The RMS St Helena provides the only regular life-line to the remote south Atlantic island of St Helena and is manned by a mix of "Saints" and British officers and personnel.

Young, 37, was a graduate of Curnow's long-established cadet training programme. He joined the company as one of four cadets when the programme was set up in August 1981. Of the original four, two are now second engineers on the ship, which is owned by the St Helena government.

Young is also Curnow's training manager and said the programme has been successful in providing high quality training and employment opportunities for youngsters on the island.

He said a high proportion of the 18 cadets to date have been female. The ship currently has a female second officer, Belinda Bennett, and two female third officers.

Among the current female cadets, one is training to be an electrical/technical officer and another an engineering officer.

Curnow's managing director Simon Sugrue said the company's training programme was fundamental to the successful operation of the ship.

"Over half the passengers at any time are Saints travelling to or from the island. A high proportion of the crew are from Saint Helena. It is logical that the officers should be so, too," Sugrue said.

"Curnow has been managing the RMS for 23 years. We set up the cadet training programme in the early days and it is magnificent to see people's hard work coming to fruition.

"Rodney Young is to be congratulated on becoming the first St Helenian Master to be appointed - we don't expect him to be the last. The next one may well be a woman."

The RMS St Helena under the command of Young is due to arrive in Cape Town en-route from Cardiff on 19 September. Thereafter she will shuttle to the island before returning to Cape Town to play host and guard-ship to the Governor's Cup Yacht Race which starts in Table Bay on 2 December 2000. - Sapa