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New chapter of training in maritime

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Newly refurbished SA Agulhas takes off with 20 new trainees, who will be on a journey to the East Coast of South Africa for two weeks before arriving in Cape Town. Supplied Newly refurbished SA Agulhas takes off with 20 new trainees, who will be on a journey to the East Coast of South Africa for two weeks before arriving in Cape Town.

New learning programme to benefit newly recruited ratings trainees 


May 31, 2018 

Staff Reporter 

Port Elizabeth, South Africa: The SA Agulhas took off from Port of Port Elizabeth today on a new learning programme which will benefit the first group of ratings trainees. 

The vessel will be sailing along the coast to Cape Town, on charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF), to retrieve data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change.

The vessel takes with it 20 new trainees, who will be on a journey to the East Coast of South Africa for two weeks before arriving in Cape Town.

The training will see them gaining practical sea-time towards their international seafaring qualifications, aboard the dedicated training vessel owned by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).


The trainees are part of a new unique pilot program which involves training as part of a pilot project by SAIMI and the Transport Education & Training Authority (TETA) to develop training for ratings-level seafarers. 

The 20 rating trainees on this voyage are part of a group of a larger group of 45 trainees, who are undergoing the training. 

This will provide a wider scope of maritime training and skills development, expanding the maritime study and career opportunities for school-leavers and growing the pool of employable South African sea-farers.

Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, said the programme addresses the gap for career opportunities. 

"Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as maintenance of the vessels, its equipment and gear, in rigging and deploying equipment, and handling and securing cargo.”

“The vessel is well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, is testimony of its strength and calibre,” Tilayi said.


Ratings work in areas such as maintenance of the vessel and its equipment and gear; in rigging and deploying equipment, as well as handling and securing cargo.

The distinction of the programme is that it opens up opportunities for maritime studies to school-leavers, who don’t qualify for diploma studies at university level - thus enabling even those learners who thought Maritime studies are not accessible to them, a chance at the exciting Maritime opportunities. 

The Research Programme

The SA Agulhas will be sailing on a Research Charter for the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF).  

The purpose of the voyage is to retrieve data from the Agulhas System Climate Array (ASCA).  ASCA is made up of a number of scientific buoys which are deployed off the coast of South Africa to monitor the predominant Agulhas current.

The Trainees

They are a collective of young men and women from two provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western  Cape. 


Anxiety is visible on their faces, as the clock ticks down the minutes to the last seconds of the countdown. 

They are young, fresh from school and have never left the shores of South Africa; only time will tell if they are made up material that will make them the finest navy officers in the years to come. 

Lelethu Mtuzula, 20, said she has always wanted to work for the navy.

"I made applications to be part of the programme and prayed very hard to be one of the people who will form part of the training programme," said Lelethu.

Mtuzula, comes from Vornado Valley in Butterworth, in the Eastern Cape. 

Lihle Hongwane, 25, from Lamontville in KZN said she is very excited but also nervous about the excursion. 
"It is a beautiful challenge and has very nice opportunities. I never thought I'd be part of the maritime sector, but I'm here today and ready to take up the challenge paving my way to being a Maritime officer," said Lihle. 

Thabile Mkhize is the youngest trainee, at 19 and fresh out of high school. 
"I'm excited and thankful for this rare opportunity. 
It's hard to leave home but I'm very keen, this is a unique opportunity. Even though there are more men than women, we will soldier on because we want to bridge the gender divide. 
" I'd like to encourage all other young people like me, to join the Maritime industry, it's got beautiful life changing experiences," said Thabile. 

From now on, their lives are about to undergo a total transformation that will give them new opportunities and unique career routes.