World Maritime Day 2023_SA Agulhas II Purser_Mr Siyabonga Mtshali

Only three days left before World Maritime Day 2023, which is celebrated every year on the last Thursday of September. This international observance aims to highlight the crucial role that shipping and seafaring play in our global economy and emphasise the importance of sustainable maritime practices. 

The Maritime Interview Series Part 4 features Mr Siyabonga Mtshali, Purser and Head of the Catering Department on the S.A. Agulhas II. 

What is the role of a Purser on the ship?

A purser is the officer principally responsible for the handling of money on board. Responsibilities include overseeing all administrative duties and ship supplies such as food and drink, and clothing and bedding; to this, the Purser is also referred to as the Head of the Catering Department.

Mr Mtshali’s Background and Journey into a Seafarer Career

Mr Mtshali hales from KwaDukuza-Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal, and recently joined the S.A. Agulhas II with the vessel managing agent, African Marine Solutions (AMSOL). Mr Mtshali obtained his National Diploma in Maritime Studies (now referred to as Nautical Studies) from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), including in-service training with AMSOL, qualifying him as a maritime officer. The requirements for working as a seafarer include completing several short courses related to health and safety to fulfil the “Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeeping” (STCW), as determined by the  International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The STCW Basic Safety Training course is mandated by all flag states for all working seafarers. It is the international standard of nearly every leading flag state in the world. After completing these courses, Mr Mtshali became SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) accredited. Mr Mtshali’s experience as a seafarer includes working as a Third Officer on the S. A. AMANDLA (IMO: 7385215), which is a Tug vessel that was built in 1976 and is sailing under the flag of South Africa.

What do you like the most about your job?

Mr Mtshali said he enjoys working with people; which is one of the essential roles of a Purser. He has been described as friendly and approachable by the passengers.

Any advice to someone who would like to pursue this career?

“Make sure that it’s something you have a passion for, because passion goes a long way, even through the challenging times when you are at sea away from loved ones.”

World Maritime Day reminds us of the vital role that the maritime industry plays in our interconnected world. The maritime industry is also particularly crucial in enabling the science and research in the Antarctic region and Southern Ocean through SANAP.

Photo Credit: Rabia Mathakutha (South African Polar Research Infrastructure) and Eduan Teich via the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (ALSA) Archive.

Written by: Rabia Mathakutha, South African Polar Research Infrastructure, 25 September 2023

Edited by: Anche Louw (South African Polar Research Infrastructure) and Ria Olivier (Antarctic Legacy of South Africa)

© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits
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