Twenty cadets have returned home safely following an 83-day journey on the South Africa Agulhas, which covered the Antarctica.
The vessel, which is the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) dedicated training vessel, sailed to the Antarctica on 24 November 2017, via Mauritius carrying 13 men and 7 women cadets who are enrolled at various institutions pursuing maritime studies.
The SA Agulhas was chartered by an Indian science team who boarded the ship at Port Louis, Mauritius. During the journey to the “end of the earth” as the cadets describe, they engaged in unique maritime training sessions, with the added bonus of meeting new people from all over the world.
SAMSA Operations Manager for SAMSA’s Maritime Special Projects, Roland Shortt, said the journey of the SA Agulhas was an exceptionally unique experience.
Highlighting how crucial it is to keep the SA Agulhas at sea, he explained the role of the training vessel served to enhance maritime training and also contribution to the development of the oceans economy.
“There is a dedicated cadet training programme on board where they receive direct training as if they were in a classroom. They have dedicated training officers whose sole purpose is to groom, mentor and train the cadets. Their training involves many tasks including bridge watch keeping (navigation), passage spanning, and astronavigation.
“They also get to be trained in the engineering side of the ship. This exposes them to training on maintenance of the ship’s power plant,” said Shortt.
Shortt explained that unlike putting them in a merchant vessel, where they would be shadowing the officers, in the SA Agulhas they do not merely watch; they are taken through the process, layer by layer.
He said the scientific team carried out a lot of different areas of research, ranging from atmospheric research which entailed taking air samples, releasing atmospheric balloons. He noted that research was conducted in the water, taking water samples from the water continuously to test for salinity, water temperature, and its density.
Clementine Dlamini (21) is one of the seven female cadets who was on board the SA Agulhas. After matriculating in 2013, she decided to further her studies at the Durban University of Technology, where she completed her National Diploma in Maritime Studies (2016).
“Not many females are doing maritime studies. I wanted to do something different and be a role model to the youth in my area and other females,” Dlamini said.