SA Agulhas returns to Bay port from Antarctica

2018-02-21 06:02
< Pictured here are the seafarer cadets, who left for Antarctica three months ago on board the SA Agulhas, as part of their experiential training through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).  Photo:THANDI        SETOKOE

< Pictured here are the seafarer cadets, who left for Antarctica three months ago on board the SA Agulhas, as part of their experiential training through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). Photo:THANDI SETOKOE

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WITH 20 cadets on board who have enjoyed no less than three months of continuous sailing both across the Indian Ocean and to the southern seas, as part of their experiential training, the SA Agulhas returned to Port Elizabeth last week Friday.

The vessel, which is the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) dedicated training vessel, sailed to Antarctica on November 24 last year and was chartered by an Indian science team who boarded the ship at Port Louis, Mauritius.

Explaining the importance of the training programme, SAMSA’s operations manager of maritime special projects, Ronel Shortt, said SAMSA and many other role players within South Africa had a responsibility to help develop the environment in the maritime economy.

“By giving these cadets practical hands on experience at sea, we make them a bit more marketable which assists in fighting unemployment,” Shortt said.

More than 40 scientists from the Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research joined the cadets on the expedition to carry out oceanographic research.

“The three-month expedition took the vessel and the cadets all the way down to 68 degrees south where they encountered severe weather.

“The cadets carried out many different roles which included navigation of the vessel.

“They also got an opportunity to work with the chief engineer and his team, where they focused on the maintenance of the ship’s power plant,” Shortt added.

He said that the training officer’s sole purpose on the ship was to mould, mentor and train the young cadets on board. “So, when the cadets sailed the ship, they were not merely watching another officer, they actually had training officers on board as if they were in class.”

Sharing his experience, Siphesihle Mkize (23) said the trip went way past his expectations. “It was amazing and a highlight in my career. I have always wanted to go to the southern latitudes, so, it was a great experience going so far south and seeing my first iceberg.”

SAMSA’s chief operating officer, Sobantu Tilayi said the oceans had the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) and create just over one million jobs by 2033.

The cadets are all enrolled in the national cadet programme managed by SAIMI, with the experience obtained on their Antarctic voyage counting towards their sea time to obtain their STCW certificates of competency.

The vessel will remain in the Bay for a couple more weeks but will not be open to the public.

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