Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2003-09-10 Reporter: Inge Meijer

Its Captain Mbeki at the Helm



Cape Argus

Date 2003-09-10


Inge Meijer

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President Thabo Mbeki relinquished the helm of the ship of state for a few minutes to try his hand at naval navigation yesterday.

He was using a simulator at the new SA Maritime Training Academy (Samtra) in Simon's Town.

Mbeki officially opened the academy yesterday at a ceremony also attended by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Jeff Radebe, Premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk and Danish ambassador Torben Brylle.

The Academy is using Africa's first state-of-the-art maritime simulation equipment for students. "The Academy will enable our country to send highly skilled maritime personnel to sea," said Mbeki. "They will match the expertise of the best in the world having used the most modern simulators to help perfect their skills."

Samtra's work would help reduce the level of unemployment, he said, and noted his pleasure that it was open to trainees from other African countries.

Mbeki toured the school building, where he saw Cape Town harbour and Table Mountain appear in front of a ship simulator. Waves seemed to rock the simulated ship's bridge.

Using a database of thousands of photos, the simulator is uncannily like the real thing.

"We can reproduce anything that happens in the real sea. So students can make mistakes here, rather then out there," said Samtra guide Bob Smythe.

Samtra was established with a donation of $3.3 million from the Danish maritime company AP Moller-Maersk Group.

With acknowledgements to Inge Meijer and the Cape Argus.