Milestone as foreign shipowner takes South African crew

Dec 5, 2004
Author: P&S

Job creation received a timely boost earlier today (Sunday, 5 December 2004) with the handing over of a fully South African crew to an international shipping company.

The South African crew will serve on the reefer vessel Snow Land, which is a familiar sight in South African ports, and will spend the next eight months on board the ship before returning home for a break and deployment to another company vessel.

Snow Land is currently employed on the fruit trades between Cape Town and Europe and will be one of the first reefer ships of the new season to carry a large consignment of grapes and other deciduous fruit to Europe.

Lester Petini, chairman of Marine Crew Services (MCS), a company established to develop and place South African seafarers with international shipping, said that traditionally both Cape Town and Durban enjoyed a long history in seafaring, mostly through the activities of Unicorn and Safmarine. Both cities boast high-quality officer and rating training institutions backed by certificates of competency issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). These certificates are in turn accredited by the International Maritime Organisation via STCW as amended in 1995.

“Given the training capacity available in South Africa, MCS believes the country is uniquely positioned to once again become a sustainable source for international crewing.”

The new crew of Snow Land has been idle for a fairly long period of time, despite some of them having up to 33 years of service at sea.

“We salute our partners in this venture, Mats Ruhne of the shipping line Holy House, as well as Universal Reefers and their South African agents Cape Reefers,” said Lance Manala, chief executive officer for MCS.

He said MCS was already supplying crew to a growing list of clients and had established strong contacts in the offshore industry. It was also supervising the training of seafarers from Angola on behalf of four major companies operating in that market.

To facilitate the crewing a special South African wage scale was agreed with the ITF (International Transport Federation) in London with the support of the Ministry of Labour and the SA Transport & Allied Workers Union (Satawu).

“This means our seafarers are competitive in the European trades and owners employing South African seafarers on their vessels will be entitled to an ITF Blue card which will ensure that their trade is undisturbed by labour disputes,” said Manala.

He said the agreement with Holy House and Cape Reefers was only the beginning. MCS believed that all South African companies who own cargo and are part of the import and export business should support these ventures. South Africans should be given the opportunity to benefit from the shipping of their own cargo.

“Our mission is to use trade to create more jobs for South Africans in the maritime world. We’ve accepted the challenge to prepare and place seafarers that will become a new South African export product – this initiative embodies the spirit of the South African Maritime Transport BEE and we are ready to engage other role-players to accelerate this initiative.”

Gerhard van Heerden, MD of Universal Reefers said his company’s concern remained the welfare of the South African fruit export industry.

“By supporting the fruit industry, we support the maritime industry and this has a leveraging effect in the South African economy as a whole.”

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