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15/07/2021 04:20 PM

Maritime careers: "I want to be at sea, nothing beats it!"

From the Pilbara to Panama, Sydney to the Southern Ocean, two cadets continue their journey on Port Authority of New South Wales’ program to help young seafarers start their maritime careers.

A career in maritime gets ever closer for cadets Sean and Amelia following a placement on the Royal Australian Navy’s training ship MV Sycamore as part of Port Authority of NSW's Sponsored Deck Cadet Program. 

Image: Port Authority cadet Sean at the helm of the MV Sycamore

The Sycamore is staffed and operated by shipping company Teekay and provides training and sea familiarisation for new naval recruits and officers. From its base in Sydney Harbour, the ship sails the NSW coast to provide training and exercises in navigation, dive support, mine warfare and landing helicopters on deck. 

The placement gave Sean and Amelia an opportunity to learn from the ship’s dedicated training officer, develop their seafaring skills and gain sea-time experience, which saw them handling the ship in Jervis Bay, as well as getting the chance to fly in a Blackhawk helicopter. 

Image: The MV Sycamore conducting helicopter landing exercises off the NSW coast.

Now well into Port Authority’s two-year program, Sean and Amelia have taken placements on a variety of sea-going vessels in Australian waters and beyond to help them acquire 18-months of sea-time experience required for their Watchkeeping Certificate and a career in maritime.  

For Sean, his first placement was on a Dutch cargo ship for a three-month global voyage that transited the Panama Canal.  

“New Zealand to Panama alone was a 21-day stretch at sea and I worked eight-hour days — with Sundays off to rest,” says Sean. “It was a great working experience and on downtime had the chance to connect with the international crew: watching films, playing basketball on the deck and learning about them and their maritime careers. 

“I want to be at sea — nothing beats it! The long voyages were amazing: weeks sailing to another county and seeing it for the first time as you come into port. 

Image: Port Authority's cadets get placements on working vessels
to gain 18-months of seagoing experience

Following his placement on the SycamoreSean flew to Karratha in WA to join an offshore supply vessel, the Normand Skimmerfor 12 weeks. 

“It’s a unique run,” says Sean. “The vessel’s main deck was modified earlier this year to allow the placement of 35 TEU containers stacked two high, making it the world’s first offshore supply ship that can carry containers in this way. We deliver fuel and stores to Barrow Island – a marine park conservation area – so there’s a high level of quarantine to ensure so we don’t introduce foreign species to the island. On both sides we have quarantine officers who inspect the ship and cargo with a fine-tooth comb.” 

Closer to home, Amelia worked with Bass Strait shipping company Searoad on vessels providing essential supplies to Tasmania. Impressed with her work, Searoad offered Amelia a cadetship with the company to help her secure her sea-time experience. 

Image: Amelia onboard the MV Sycamore as part of her two-year cadet program

On completing her placement on the Sycamore, Amelia swapped the serenity of Sydney Harbour for one of the roughest seas in the world to work on a huge offshore anchor handler. 

“For seven weeks, I had the opportunity to work on the Siem Aquamarine, one of three anchor handling vessels servicing the Ocean Onyx rig in the Southern Ocean,” says Amelia. “During my first week, we were recovering anchors from a previous drill site which involved ‘catching’ buoys connected to the anchors, hauling the chain aboard and popping each 30-tonne anchor out of the seabed — a great experience.” 

Image: The program helps cadets like Amelia gain the skills required
for their Watchkeepers Certificate

Since launching in 2019, Port Authority’s Sponsored Deck Cadet Program is giving young Australian seafarers a real start in the maritime industry says program mentor and Sydney marine pilot, Michael Kelly. 

“Our first cadet, Matias, is now sailing as a third mate on the Spirit of Tasmania,” says Michael. “Our second, Callum, is now finishing his Deck Watchkeepers qualification at the Australian Maritime College after placements with MMA Offshore and Maersk Supply Service and hopes to work in the offshore industry as second mate.”

Image: Deck cadets Sean and Amelia with program mentor
and Sydney marine pilot, Michael Kelly. 

“Australia is a maritime nation that depends on shipping, but it has a small merchant fleet of its own. This means training opportunities for the many professions that require experience at sea are extremely hard to come by. Our program aims to turn that tide by finding opportunities and encouraging industry support for young seafarers starting their maritime careers.”  

Find out more about Port Authority's Sponsored Deck Cadet Program

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