SA Agulhas returns to Cape Town after six months
June 15, 2018
The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) dedicated training vessel, the SA Agulhas is back in Cape Town after a successful scientific voyage off the East coast with newly skilled 20 rating trainees who are part of a new pilot programme aimed at increasing the number of employable South African seafarers.
The SA Agulhas arrived at Cape Town Port on Wednesday.
The ship which was captained by Captain Daniel Postman, left Port of Port Elizabeth on May 31, 2018 on its charter off the East coast of South Africa for scientific research as part of the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON).
The mission was to retrieve data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change.
On board were 20 deck and engine rating trainees, and three cadets, who were gaining practical sea-time experience towards their international seafaring qualifications. This was the first exposure for the trainees to the maritime sector who have not had any formal training prior to them embarking on the vessel.
Today, the trainees described their mission as being successful and an eye opener to the possibilities that lie within the maritime sector for employment and experience.
The 20 rating trainees are part of a group of 45 candidates in a pilot project facilitated by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA).
The scientific mission was successful and according to SAMSA COO Sobantu Tilayi, the research obtained would assist in critical experimental analysis.
On board the vessel, the scientific crew, accompanied by a select group of scientists from the United States of America, were supported by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
“The experience of the ratings trainees has fortified their wish to be gainfully employed. This exercise undertaken using young people with no formal education allows us to entrench the ethos of Operation Phakisa to boost the oceans’ economy.”
Some of the trainees were as young as 19 years old, having completed matric last year.
“We are serious about addressing the high unemployment rate in this country and offer the maritime sector as a viable employer. No job proved too hard or too menial for these trainees. They starting at the bottom of the ladder and can work their way up.
“Their actions on board in the past two weeks showed us there is a clear resolve to beat the odds, roll up their sleeves and work for a living. We at SAMSA are proud of these young people,” said Tilayi.
Steven Paulse, training officer on board the SA Agulhas, representing the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) applauded the young trainees on board the mission.
“They were hungry to learn, for education and experience. Captain Postman was very impressed with this intake. They have kept the ship nice and tidy and having just been part of the scientific mission, they supported the crew and the scientists themselves.”
From here onwards the rating trainees will undergo further training on board the vessel and also in classrooms.
“The trainees attitude was brilliant. They knew people don’t come on board to waste their time. It was easy to work with them as they came knowing nothing of the vessel, and this hands on experience catapulted them into becoming responsible and hardworking young men and women.”
Deck rating trainee, Lihle Hlongwane (25), sharing her excitement said: “My experience on board was amazing. It was weird in the beginning because it was my first time being exposed to the sea and I got sea sick for two days, due to change of environments. We were taught about ship maintenance, how to tie the ship for gang way access and were given tasks such as; taking shifts to control access on the decks and controlling outsiders from disturbing proceedings inside.
Hlongwane added she was confident that she will be a great seafarer and her determination will take her far. “The fact that I am interested and committed to this training even when I am miles away from home- gives me great confidence that I will excel in my job and become a great seafarer.”
Deck rating trainee, Thabile Mkhize (19), who studied maritime in High school and matriculated in 2016, said: “There has been a lot of amazing experiences for me. My biggest highlight was getting the opportunity to be on board a ship at sea for the first time in my life. This was the best experience for me. The training didn’t feel like we were at work, it was too much fun and learning. This made the whole expedition priceless and life changing.”