September 30, 2019

National Seafarer Development Programme

SAIMI manages the National Seafarer Development Programme (NSDP), which is currently funded by the National Skills Fund.

It is widely accepted that seafarers are the backbone of any maritime nation as their experience and expertise are a requirement for many functions performed ashore, where they play an important role in maritime administration, planning and policy-making, as well as in areas such as ports management, maritime safety and marine surveying. Efforts to grow the seafarer pool not only enable the crewing of more South-African-flagged vessels, both merchant and government owned (such as DEA and DAFF fleets), but also serve towards an increased source of expertise for the wide range of industry sub-sectors.

The South African Maritime Training Authority (SAMSA) launched the National Cadet Programme (NCP) in 2011 as a national intervention to address the country’s sea-faring skills shortage and the inability of graduates to obtain the necessary sea-time to complete their qualifications. The programme was formalised with the granting of funding from the DHET for the period 2012-2014 and the acquisition of the Dedicated Training Vessel SA Agulhas as the “laboratory” and learning space for the programme.

The NCP provides a structured training programme for candidates to obtain their sea-time through agreements with foreign and local shipping companies, enabling them to secure internationally recognised qualifications.  During their time aboard a vessel, the seafarers are taught seamanship and safety culture, best practice, discipline and work ethics, practical application of theory learnt at college or university, and combine experience and research to complete assignments and gain practical ship maintenance experience.  

The NCP has been successful, in terms of providing berths for cadets who would otherwise have been lost to the industry, and in eradicating the backlog of graduates awaiting berths to acquire the necessary sea-time in order to qualify. 

Tertiary programmes offered by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and Nelson Mandela University (NMU) currently provide the NCP academic component, with simulator and professional maritime training through private training providers, and experiential learning (sea-time) aboard international trading vessels through partner shipping companies. 

SAIMI took over the administration of the National Cadet Programme (NCP) from SAMSA in 2014, in order to house the programme within an entity focused specifically on Maritime Education and Training (MET) with programme delivery by specialist training providers.  

The overall objective is job creation, to grow a sustainable pool of South African Seafarers through quality and accredited training programmes, targeting unemployed youth from the previously disadvantaged communities for skills training and thereafter for potential supply to international and local shipowners for gainful, lucrative  employment in the longer term, thus aligning with the SA Government’s strategic national priority issues, contributing to job creation and assisting towards the alleviation of poverty in our country.


Due to the expansion of the categories of Seafarers that have been identified for training, it has become necessary to create a comprehensive and all-encompassing programme, now referred to as the National Seafarer Development Programme (NSDP).

The NSDP includes all categories of Seafarer Trainees, including Deck & Engineer Cadet trainees, and Deck/Engine/Fishing Rating trainees. Further training programmes may be introduced in the future.

The National Cadet Programme (NCP) is a sub-programme of the NSDP but continues to refer to the training of Deck Cadets and Engineer Cadets only. This will ensure that the NCP retains its unique and special status. The NCP covers the practical training phases required for a Deck or Engineer Officer Certificate of Competency (CoC), as Regulated and Administrated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), upon final completion of all statutory requirements.  

The Deck and Engineer Cadets will qualify with a Certificate of Competency (CoC) as an: 

• Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (Deck Cadet): 

Final SAMSA/STCW Qualification as Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (STCW II/1). Applicable to foreign going vessels and unlimited tonnage ships.

• Officer in Charge of an Engineering Watch (Engineer Cadet):

Final SAMSA/STCW Qualification as Officer in Charge of an Engineering Watch (STCW III/1). Applicable to foreign going vessels and unlimited horsepower.

In addition to the funding received from the National Skills Fund (NSF), the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) has also supported the NSDP by providing funding for the training of Deck, Engine and Fishing Ratings.


• Sub-programme: National Cadet Programme

• Deck Cadet

• Engineer Cadet 

• Sub-programme: Ratings

• Deck Rating 

• Engine Rating 

• Fishing Rating


SAIMI supports several development initiatives for youth and maritime school learners, with the aim of strengthening existing programmes that raise awareness of maritime careers and the oceans environment and to develop maritime and life skills. In particular, the intention is to strengthen the National Seafarer Development Programme by widening the pool of potential recruits and supporting better preparedness of learners for maritime studies. SAIMI has provided support to the following programmes:

• Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy (RCYC) 
• Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation 
• SATS General Botha Old Boys (GBOBA) 
• South African Sea Cadets (SASC) 


SAIMI has subscribed to the following e-learning platforms to assist learners and trainees with maritime related studies.


SAIMI acquired the ‘Learn@Sea’ Application in support of the NCP and its development pipeline  to improve English, maths and writing abilities of maritime learners. This will be rolled out on a national basis at Sea Cadet Training Ships, maritime high schools, TVET Colleges and is available to existing trainees in the NCP.

Seagull Maritime AS ‘Ability Profiling’ solution (APRO)

SAIMI acquired the maritime-specific, and internationally-accepted ‘Ability Profiling’ solution (APRO) from Seagull Maritime AS to help guide interested youngsters into the most suitable career options – based on their ability and suitability. Seagull’s e-Learning material and films are available online, as well as for use on board the DTV SA Agulhas to augment training. Tertiary institutions and individual trainees will also benefit from access to these resources.


The two accredited training providers, who are providing seafarer training on the NSDP, are the South African Maritime Training Authority (SAMTRA) and Marine Crew Services (MCS). These organisations have been involved in the training of seafarers since the programmes’ inception. 


The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) is a non-profit company established through donations made by a.p. Moller maersk group as a simulator training facility for the maritime industry.

Situated in Simon’s Town (approximately 50kms from Cape Town), the facility houses bridge, engine room, reefer, ECDIS, GMDSS and Long Range Communications (LRC) simulation equipment respectively acquired from Force Technology, STN Atlas and Poseidon. SAMTRA’s instructors are qualified ex sea-going marine personnel, who have all received intensive training in pedagogy, lecturing and simulation operation to ensure quality course delivery. Real-life, relevant examples are shared to enrich the courses being offered.


• SAMTRA Training for Cruise Ship.

• Merchant Shipping.
• Super-Yacht Training.
• Oil & Gas Industry Training.
• Cadet Training Programme.
• Onboard Training Programme.
• Custom Training Solutions.

Contact Details:  Website   Telephone:  +27 21 786 8400         


Africa and South Africa has shown the potential to be a sustainable supplier of high quality, well-trained crew to international clients, particularly those vessels which call at South African ports.

South African seafarers are highly marketable and Marine Crew Services, which has been a leader in the cadet training, training management and crewing solutions of African seafarers for more than a decade, provides crewing and training services to the maritime sector both within and outside the borders of South Africa.


• Cadet Training.

• Training Management.
• Other Training (Non SA).
• Crewing Opportunities.
• Other Services.

Contact Details:  Website   Telephone: +27 21 421 3511   


For more information on the National Seafarer Development programme please click here Dive In Career Exploration


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