4 January 2013
Cape Town, January 7, 2013: Tears of joy overwhelmed well wishers and crew of the SA Agulhas today as it embarked on a historic trip to transport members of the Coldest Journey Expedition to traverse the Antarctic with 62 precious cargo, young maritime cadets, on board.
Holding back tears, families bid farewell to the young cadets who will cut their teeth on this first ever Coldest Journey Team, led by veteran explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. As the ship set sail against the rising morning sun, cadets could be seen waving South African flags, while a Jazz quintet bid them a fine farewell to tunes of hope and inspiration. This was a start of a week journey for cadets and a 14 month exploration of the coldest continent on earth.
SAMSA CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele said: “SAMSA is proud to be part of such a historical journey. The research conducted would benefit the entire world. This is history in the making. The SA Agulhas has been under the leadership of SAMSA since 2012 and is now South Africa and Africa’s first dedicated training vessel.
“The partnership with other African countries such as Gambia, Cameroon and Ghana, allows us to strengthen continental ties and collaboration. This is the beginning of repositioning Africa in the World maritime community. By repositioning our maritime efforts, we will assist in the repositioning our communities, empowering them economically.”
|“This Coldest journey on earth is humankind’s first ever attempt in history at crossing the Antarctica in winter,” said Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga. Commenting on the vessel’s London voyage, she said the occasion presented SAMSA with an opportunity to present to the global shipping fraternity a chance to source quality seafarers.
“The only concern raised was that though the quality is impressive the numbers we produce are way too low for the high demand of the global fleet. The opportunity to create jobs for our young people presented by this situation demands quick but well coordinated plan to produce adequate numbers of high quality seafarers,” the Minister said.
The SA Agulhas is expected reach Antarctica in four weeks, and will help Sir Fiennes and his team off load equipment and set up base, before heading back to Cape Town, South Africa. As the vessel departs it will break through ice to berth alongside the East Coast of the Antarctic Ice Edge. The expedition will traverse from base camp Novo for 2.233 km to reach the Geographic South Pole, which is about 1600 km to reach the Ross Sea. It will then proceed to another base camp around September. The vessel will return in 2014 to collect the team.
SAMSA is proud to be associated with the “Seeing is Believing” charity which to Coldest Journey aims to raise funds for to tackle avoidable blindness in the developing world. During the 2000 mile journey the team will undertake scientific research projects and using satellite communications will send educational material to schools in the Commonwealth.
Issued by FBI Communications in collaboration with Blue Leaf Communications on behalf of SAMSA