Young crew and international scientists set sail to Antarctica on board Agulhas

Published Nov 22, 2017


Twenty young cadets, mainly from Durban and Cape Town, are soon to set sail on South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel, SA Agulhas 1, partaking in an international research expedition with overseas scientists.


The Agulhas 1, under the command of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will embark on a scientific expedition to Antarctica on Friday, setting sail with 20 new cadets and hosting scientists from India.


The authority said in a statement that the vessel would traverse through the Indian ocean with its first stop in Mauritius, to collect the scientists, and then head to Antarctica to spend three months on a research mission. For the cadets, recruited for various on board technical functions, this would be their maiden journey.



The SA Agulhas is expected to reach Antarctica in four weeks. The cadets, aged from 20 to 27, are fresh from their academic studies from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Durban University of Technology.


As part of its crew the vessel will have 19 deck cadets and one engine cadet, of which 12 are male and eight are female. The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) has been appointed to manage the cadets and training operations for the Antarctic voyage.


On board the vessel as well will be two deck training officers, Captain Merwyn Pieters and Steven Paulse, who are both immensely experienced in the operation of the vessel and also travelled on a previous expedition in 2016.


Chief Operations Officer for SAMSA, Sobantu Tilayi said: “As SAMSA we are proud to be part of this endeavour to train young people and expose them to new opportunities. We are confident that the cadets chosen possess the steely determination and focus to survive in the Antarctic.

Picture: Supplied


“The knowledge acquired from this cold journey will benefit South Africa’s fast growing maritime sector and the entire world.


“It is through such initiatives we aim to fight the plague of unemployment, create awareness about our oceans and help contribute towards our oceans economy,” said Tilayi.


Captain Pieters, an experienced seaman with almost 46 years under his belt working on various vessels, said the cadets were enthusiastic and keen.


“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these young people – a trip like this would normally cost over $50 000, and they are being afforded this opportunity to learn under some of the most trying conditions. Between the other training officer and I, we are honoured to pass on our expertise and knowledge.


It takes guts of steel to be away from your family and loved ones. For this group, this journey is new to them, and it would come with many new experiences, including building team spirit,” Pieters said.

The Mercury

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