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SA Agulhas docks at Port of Port Elizabeth from Antarctica

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 16, 2018
SA Agulhas docks at Port of Port Elizabeth from Antarctica

20 local cadets, who left for Antarctica three months ago on board the SA Agulhas, as part of their experiential training through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) docked at the Port of Port Elizabeth on Friday.

They returned bringing with them their incredible experiences from the earth’s southern- most continent and the site of the South Pole.

The Agulhas, which is SAMSA’s dedicated training vessel, sailed to the Antarctica on November 24, 2017.

It was chartered by an Indian science team, who boarded the ship at Port Louis, Mauritius. About 40-47 scientists from the Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research joined the cadets on the expedition to carry out oceanographic research.

SAMSA Chief Operating Officer, Sobantu Tilayi, said: “With the Indian scientists chartering the SA Agulhas, it provides a platform for youth to develop their maritime skills, allows SAMSA to take advantage of the immense potential of this untapped resource – the ocean.

“The oceans have the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) and create just over one million jobs by 2033.”

The ship spent approximately one month in the Antarctica.

While the 20 cadets are mostly maritime studies students from the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), the South African International Maritime Institute was responsible for their Cadet Training Programme on board the vessel.

Rolen Short, Operations Manager at SAMSA, said that the sole purpose of the training was to mould, mentor and train the cadets.

“The experience will help the young man or lady more marketable than anyone else who has tried to operate within the environment and through that we are hoping to uplift the maritime economy, help to fight unemployment, make a great job creation.

“The cadets came on board in mid-November 2017 and the vessel sailed on the 24th of November," he described.

“They have a dedicated training programme on-board which is an advantage of sailing on a dedicated training vessel compared to putting cadets on another matching vessel. When they sail they don’t mainly watch other sailing officers, they actually have training boarders who sees that they are in class. There were 20 cadets and two training officers.”

The SA Agulhas is internationally recognised for assisting international researchers and created a platform for young cadets to receive training and sea-time.

23-year-old Phakamile Xaki, from Matatiele, in the rural Eastern Cape, emphasised how exciting the trip was besides missing his family.

“We went to Mauritius and their temperature is a bit higher, then we went to the South where the temperature was very bad and our bodies have to adjust to such challenges but it was an amazing experience,” he described.