June 02, 2020

History Made as SA Agulhas 'Manned' By All-Female Crew

An all-female crew made history when they set off on a voyage to Antarctica in December 2019. It was the first time that an all-women crew was deliberately recruited to 'man' the SA Agulhas - the country's only dedicated cadet training vessel.

An all-female crew made history when they set off on a voyage to Antarctica in December 2019.

It was the first time that an all-women crew was deliberately recruited to 'man' the SA Agulhas - the country's only dedicated cadet training vessel.

The crew of 22 women - consisting of two training officers and 20 young female cadets - were set to return from their voyage to Antarctica at the end of March 2020.

The deliberate selection of women crew members was done in support of the advancement of gender equality in the maritime sector, in line with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s Women in Maritime Programme. According to the IMO, women still represent only 2% of the world's 1.2 million seafarers.

The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) was instrumental in the success of the trip by recruiting and providing the female crew members. The National Cadet Programme (NCP) is managed by SAIMI and has a strong focus on Women in the maritime sector, with female cadets making up 26% of of the current cohort of cadets.

The all-female crew onboard the Agulhas were accompanied by scientists from the Indian National Centre for Antarctic Ocean Research (ICAOR) who conducted research during the trip. The cadets received extensive and practical training on board the Agulhas, which is owned and operated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Training officer, Cher Klein, was excited for the task at hand and had the following to say before she left on the historical voyage to Antarctica: "First ly, even though I have been to many places during my sea career, this will be my first voyage to Antarctica.

Secondly, this trip will comprise of only female cadets and it is an honour to take command of their training. I will be entrusted not only in training them in nautical studies and seamanship skills, but I will also be passing on my years of knowledge and experience that I gained through my seagoing career." said Klein.

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