President Mbeki opens new South African Maritime Training Academy

Sep 10, 2003
Author: P&S

South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki yesterday (Tuesday, 9 September 2003) launched the new South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) at a ceremony in Simon’s Town, Cape Town.

Among the guests was Mr Jess Soderberg, chief executive of the AP Møller Group, which was instrumental in getting SAMTRA launched via a USD 3.3million donation.

The Academy, which houses Africa’s first state-of-the-art maritime simulation equipment, is housed in a new two-storey building overlooking Simon’s Town Naval harbour. The establishment of the academy is also in line with the South African government’s skills transfer and job creation objectives, and supports the aims of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African Union (AU), and Southern African Development Community (SADC).

According to Mr Fred Jacobs, SAMTRA’s vice chairman, the academy aims at becoming a major contributor in the maritime training industry with a broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) focus.

“Amongst the indicators of the BEE charter are skills development, job creation and poverty alleviation. By building up the maritime community nationally through enhancing technical
skills, the entire shipping talent pool of the country will be uplifted. This will assist with opening employment opportunities at sea by offering outstanding training to world-class standards, and providing a competitive edge for South African maritime personnel. It is also a focus of SAMTRA to be accessible to seafarers from other African countries in support of the government's NEPAD initiative,” he said.

In terms of the private/public sector, SAMTRA will aim to establish good relationships with technikons and universities to create centres of excellence for maritime training in South Africa.

“It is our vision to become the preferred maritime simulation training facility nationally, as well as to other African nations,” Jacobs explained. “A collaborative approach to any other maritime training initiatives will be important to support the ongoing development of maritime skills advancement.”

South Africa has a long history as a maritime nation and SAMTRA will facilitate the maritime services development of an export driven economy through advancing skills, ensuring the country has highly qualified maritime personnel. Students will be drawn from all over South Africa, and not only from coastal communities.

Founding members of the Academy include the Society of Master Mariners of SA, the Institute of Marine Engineers, the SA Department of Transport, SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), SA Ship-owners Association, SA Navy, AP Møller Foundation, AP Møller Technical Organisation, Safmarine (Pty) Ltd, Safmarine Technical Organisation, National Port Authority, Western Cape
Education Authority and the Provincial Planning and Development Commission of KwaZulu Natal.

SAMTRA's mission is to provide educational and operational simulator training for the maritime industry to international standards with special emphasis on safety of personnel, vessels, cargoes and the environment.

The academy’s product offering includes deck officer training on three bridge simulators, and simulation training courses in marine engineering and marine refrigeration. Courses are designed to suit all levels. This gives seafarers from the merchant marine, the military, the fishing industry and
harbour craft fraternity a superb opportunity to acquire advanced skills with technical training in a highly realistic simulation environment.

Simulation courses include bridge watch-keeping, ship handling, crew resource management, crisis and emergency management, Radar/Arpa (Automatic Radar Plotting Aids), ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display Information System), marine refrigeration and marine engineering.

”SAMTRA, a Section 21 company (non-profit), is set to become an active, innovative and important partner, not just within the South African maritime community, but also for maritime organisations in Africa and internationally by offering a variety of advanced training courses at competitive rates over overseas equivalents,” says Jacobs.

A promise has been kept, says President Mbeki

In his speech before about 150 invited guests, President Mbeki said that NEPAD had identified the development and social infrastructure in Africa as one of its core sectors, and this included the transport sector encompassing the ports.

“SAMTRA is making a direct contribution to this task and I wish to thank Mr McKinley Møller and the AP Maersk-Maersk Foundation and everyone else involved in this important national and African project.

“A number of years ago, when, together with our Minister of Trade and Industry, Alex Erwin, I met the leadership of AP Møller-Maersk as they prepared to take over Safmarine. I remember the commitment this leadership made to participate in a meaningful way in the development of our country.

“This indicated to us that as the Danish people had stood with us during the struggle for our emancipation from apartheid, so were they determined to continue working with us to ensure that our democratic victory opened the way to a better life for all our people. Accordingly, it is most inspiring for me to be here today, to see how faithfully AP Møller-Maersk has kept its word.

“With all-weather friends such as these, we cannot but succeed in the new and challenging struggle in which we are engaged, to push back the frontiers of poverty and expand access to a better life for all.”

Mbeki said he was pleased the academy was open to trainees from other African countries, which would lead to the development of the continent, “away from poverty, underdevelopment and violent conflicts for access to limited resources.”

“Many South Africans of all cultures and backgrounds have already chosen the sea as their place of work. While our seafarers are recognised around the globe for their commitment and standard of performance, this new training institution provides South Africans and other Africans with the opportunity to raise their standards to even higher levels.”

For more information on SAMTRA visit or, for information on
the training courses, email

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