Durban – 26 June 2013 – The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) yesterday called on the nation to salute and pay homage to more than 1.5 million seafarers around the world on this Day of the Seafarer, June 25, acknowledging that positive efforts were made in increasing the number of female marine cadets.
Two major activations held by SAMSA heralded the important Day of the Seafarer when its flagship Dedicated Training Vessel, The S.A Agulhas, berthed in Durban paid homage to the sacrifice seamen and women made for the general good of trade; and the development of economies. And in Gauteng well wishers marked the event with live streamed messages of support broadcasted at the Ports and Harbour Show 2013. SAMSA hosted an exhibition at the show.
In Durban Chief Executive Officer of SAMSA, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele addressed young cadets being trained on the Agulhas, paying particular attention to the growing number of female marine officers now entering the maritime sector.
“The maritime industry is hugely underpinned by the 98 percent of South African trade carried out by sea, which is supported with the dedication and assistance of seafarers. Today is not only a celebration of seafarers but a salute to the many female seafarers who were previously not allowed to work out at sea joining the maritime sector, ” said Mokhele.
Prior to South Africa’s transition in 1994 towards democracy, females were not allowed to work in maritime. “Democracy is about giving people the opportunity to advance in careers of their choice, that is why we encourage both males and females to work in maritime, ” said Mokhele.
He added SAMSA was working in partnership with the National Department of Labour to elevate the current employment epidemic. “As a coastal sector we have the power to create and generate thousands of jobs and therefore have partnered with the Labour Department in ensuring employment opportunities, ” he said.
According to Mokhele, SAMSA currently in the process of implementing a plan to ensure that all training cadets have contracts in place to ensure employment in the sector after their training.
SAMSA also received messages of support including from International organisation, Coldest Journey who have partnered with SAMSA on the “Seeing is Believing” chairty Expedition in the Antarctica and which will be completed later this year.
Expedition co-leader Sir Ranulph Fiennes said from London: “The international Day of the Seafarer is an important annual recognition and celebration of your (SAMSA) work. Having sailed with you to Antarctic and beyond, we raise a glass to you in gratitude for your exceptional support to our expedition and to the inspired work being undertaken by SAMSA in giving young people careers at sea.”
Agulhas ship Captain Shelton Samuels said commemorating the Day of the Seafarer the nation would recognise the “heroes of the sea”. “Seafarers have a great impact on the economy, not only on a country level but also globally as we are responsible for import and export which intern affects every single person directly or indirectly, ” said Samuels.
Senior Training engineering officer Mr Mhlonipheni Mtambo on board the Agulhas addressed the cadets and shared his experience with overcoming “rough seas“. “As tough as it is to be out at sea, it is great to know that there is a day on the social calendar dedicated to us seafarers. That alone is motivation to keep moving forward, ” said Mtambo.
Efforts towards SAMSA’s ongoing mandate to protect life at sea and overall maritime security further received impetus during SAMSA board member Ronnie Mkhwanazi’s address to the Ports and Harbour Show 2013. Global security depended on maritime security, he said adding while the maritime sector faced threats such as piracy, new measures were being explored not only to monitor vessels on the surface but also beneath the ocean.