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Agulhas heads off to Antarctica

Featured Agulhas heads off to Antarctica

Young crew and international scientists set sail

November 22, 2017

Staff Reporter

Cape Town, South Africa: It will be a maiden journey for 20 young cadets who would set sail on South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel, Agulhas, partaking in an international research expedition with overseas scientists.

The Agulhas, under the command of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will embark on a scientific expedition to Antarctica on Friday, setting sail with 20 new cadets and hosting scientists from India.

The vessel will transverse through the Indian ocean with its first stop in Mauritius, to collect the scientists, and then head to Antarctica to spend three months on a research mission. For the 20 cadets, recruited for various on board technical functions, this would be their maiden journey.

The Agulhas is expected to reach Antarctica in four weeks. The cadets, aged from 20-27, fresh from their academic studies from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Durban University of Technology.

As part of its crew the vessel will have 19 deck cadets and one engine cadet, of which 12 are males and eight are females. The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) has been appointed to manage the cadets and training operations for the Antarctic voyage.

On board the vessel as well will be two deck training officers, Captain Merwyn Pieters and Steven Paulse, who are both immensely experienced in the operation of the vessel and also travelled on a previous expedition in 2016.

Chief Operations Officer for SAMSA, Sobantu Tilayi said: “As SAMSA we are proud to be part of this endeavour to train young people and expose them to new opportunities. We are confident that the cadets chosen possess the steely determination and focus to survive in the Antarctic.

“The knowledge acquired from this cold journey will benefit South Africa’s fast growing maritime sector and the entire world.

“It is through such initiatives we aim to fight the plague of unemployment, create awareness about our oceans and help contribute towards our oceans economy,” said Tilayi.

All of the cadets have completed Medical Exams, Induction, Designated Security Duties (DSD) and Personal Survival Techniques (PST), required for the long cold yet exciting journey ahead.

Once the working vessel returns the cadets will be expected to complete the Marine Fire Fighting (FF), First Aid At Sea (FAAS) and the Personal Safety and Social Responsibility (PSSR) courses in 2018.

Captain Pieters, an experienced seaman with almost 46 years under his belt working on various vessels, said the cadets were enthusiastic and keen.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these young people – a trip like this would normally cost over $50 000, and they are being afforded this opportunity to learn under some of the most trying conditions. Between the other training officer and I we are honoured to pass on our expertise and knowledge.

Ït takes guts of steel to be away from your family and loved ones. For this group, this journey is new to them, and it would come with many new experiences, including building team spirit,” Pieters said.

The Agulhas is a ice-strengthened polar research vessel which was built in 1977 and was used to service three South African National Antarctic Programme research bases. She was retired from Antarctic service in April 2012 and was replaced by SA Agulhas II. She was transferred to SAMSA as a dedicated training vessel with trading capabilities.


Last modified onWednesday, 22 November 2017 16:14