Future captains and ships engineers to spend Christmas at sea
A group of 30 future ships’ officers will be spending Christmas in the South Atlantic Ocean during their four-month training voyage on board South Africa’s dedicated training vessel, the SA Agulhas I.
The vessel’s first stop after leaving Cape Town on Wednesday, 14 December, is Mauritius where she will pick up a group of Indian scientists as part of a research contract before heading south to the 68th parallel, which is a circle of latitude that crosses the southern ocean and Antarctica.
The students come from as far north as the Limpopo province to the port city of Cape Town.
“I saw my first ship in 2013,” says engineering cadet Clemence Phahle from Limpopo.
He studied mechanical engineering at the Tshwane University of Technology where he heard about the opportunities in the maritime industry.
Closer to the Agulhas’ home port is cadet Queenie Kakane, who was first introduced to the prospects of a career at sea while attending Simon’s Town High School, which in 1995 was the first school in South Africa to introduce a maritime studies department.
Another future engineering officer is Sanelisiwe Ngcobo, who switched courses to marine engineering while studying at the Durban University of Technology after a friend told her about the “interesting and innovative career offered by the growing shipping industry”.
Alastair Behrens, who has been going to sea on power boats in Hermanus since he was young, is looking forward to the cultural experience of being in close proximity with other cadets from around the country.
“I expect to make new friends while experiencing first-hand what a career at sea is all about,” he says.
The cadets will have four months of intensive hands-on and theoretical training while on board, says senior training officer Merwyn Pieters.
The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and Marine Crew Services (MCS) provide the training for cadets in the national cadet programme.
Under the programme the cadets will attend around 32 hours of lectures a week on board, in addition to project and practical work.
The Agulhas is fitted with a simulator so exercises can be conducted without interfering with the operations of the vessel.
After she was retired from Antarctic service as a Department of Environmental Affairs research vessel in 2012 the Agulhas I was acquired by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for training in support of the National Cadet Programme.
Those who successfully complete the training programme on board will need to complete further seatime on board other vessels towards the STCW minimum requirement of 12 months. Thereafter, and upon completion of all statutory safety and ancillary courses, they can sit for their oral exams which are administered by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The cadet programme is managed by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training through the National Skills Fund. It forms part of the initiatives under government’s Operation Phakisa programme to grow the oceans economy.
“Thanks to the partnership with the Indian government we are able to provide cadets with training berths, which are in great demand,” says Prof Malek Pourzanjani, SAIMI chief executive officer.
“After this four-month experience in the southern ocean I am sure commercial shipping companies will be happy to take them on board for the rest of their training. There are global shortages of chief engineering officers and sea captains or vessel masters,” he says.
Track the vessel's progress here - http://www.marinetraffic.com/…/imo:76281…/vessel:S_A_AGULHAS
Photo: Heading to the Antarctic – the 30 sea cadets who will be on the Agulhas 1 for the next four months. On the left is professor Malek Pourzanjani, SAIMI chief executive officer, and to the right is Meriam Malebo, project manager from the National Skills Fund.