“Agulhas 1”, the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) dedicated training vessel is set to head for African ports, Antarctica and London in the UK on its maiden instructural voyage.
Fifteen cadets yesterday joined the ship, previously the Department of Environmental Affairs research vessel SA Agulhas. The ship had left Cape Town on July 4 with 30 cadets on board. It was set to depart yesterday to other African countries – including Namibia, Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Nigeria to collect further cadets, SAMSA said in a statement.
South Africa now has less than 2000 seafarers in its registry and SAMSA has long pushed for an increase. “Previously SAMSA paid for young people to go on board foreign vessels for their training, which didn’t make sense, said Ayanda Mngadi, Executive Head: Centre for Corporate Affairs at SAMSA based in Johannesburg. “The plan was always to acquire a training vessel for South African and African learners, which will be a lot more efficient and cost effective. Ultimately you can’t become a captain just by studying harder – you need your sea time experience,” adds Mngadi.
Mngadi said the cadets’ training will include research that will provide understanding of the vulnerabilities of the coastal and ocean ecosystem services to determine the impact of climate change, particularly the emerging threat of ocean acidification.
The research is supported by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Departments of Science and Technology and Environmental Affairs.
SAMSA CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele says: “An estimated 90% of world trade goes sea facilitated by 1.5 million sea farers. However in the South African context where 98% of the trade is by sea there are only 1500 South Africans farers in the country’s ports. The disparity between the number of unemployed South African’s and the low numbers of seafarers could be curbed if more people were encouraged to take up opportunities in the maritime industry; especially women. The acquisition of SA Dedicated Training Vessel will go a long way towards making a career in the maritime fields a viable option for young people in search of a fulfilling and challenging career,” he says.