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12/10/2020 12:46 PM

Cadetships: kickstarting a career in maritime

Young Australians starting out in maritime are getting a kickstart to their careers through a program that's taken one cadet across the world onboard working vessels.

It’s taken him from Europe to Antarctica and, after two years of placements on working vessels, twenty-two-year-old Callum is the first to complete Port Authority of New South Wales’ Sponsored Deck Cadet Program.

The program gives young seafarers placements on sea-going vessels to help them get the 18-months of sea-time experience they require for their Watchkeeping Certificate.

After finding his sea-legs on fishing vessels, Callum from Western Australia knew a career in maritime was the path for him — and with two years’ practical experience now under his belt, Callum says his journey is well underway.

What was your experience on the Deck Cadet Program?
Callum: I had eight very different vessel placements over the two years, starting with eight weeks on the bulk carrier ICS Silver Lining around south-eastern Australia and Tasmania.

Image: Deck cadet Callum on a working placement in Antarctica

To name just some of my experiences, I got to cross the Pacific and Atlantic on the MV Seatrade Red container vessel, visiting numerous ports and countries along the way; went to Casey Station in Antarctica onboard the RSV Aurora Australis; tendered to the Bayu Udan rigs in the Timor Sea onboard the MMA Inscription, and took part in tug operations with Svitzer Australia in Fremantle.

What roles did you have on these ships?
I played all sorts of roles onboard each vessel but mostly it was assisting the ships’ crews with duties and following various officers of the watch around on their duties; assisting and learning as much as I could along the way. Some ships I was given specific jobs and projects to work on each day and take part in the bridge team whenever possible.

How has your two-years on the program been?
It’s been extremely helpful with gaining a broad range of maritime experience and working with many different people in all kinds of maritime roles. The program’s created so many opportunities and given a foot in the door in the maritime industry. Before all this, I honestly didn’t expect to get the phone call saying I’d got the sponsorship — it spun my world around!

Image: Port Authority's Deck Cadet program gives young seafarers placements on sea-going vessels to help them get sea-time experience

What are the key skills you learnt over the two years?
Vessel handling was the biggest skill I learnt, as well as general-hand skills on deck and on the bridge. I learnt so much about each vessel I was on — it was a well-rounded education from all aspects.

What were some of the highlights of your time on the program?
There were too many to list them all, but some standouts would have to be going to Antarctica on the Aurora Australis and seeing snow for the first time, getting to handle vessels, and learning to use dynamic positioning systems. But honestly, the whole experience was awesome, and I loved every day — some more than others after being sleep deprived in storms!

Image: The program secured Callum a placement on the research ship Aurora Australis

Did the realities of being at sea match with your expectations?
“I was used to being at sea for long periods of time and working long hours from my experience on a trawler, but when I joined the first ship I didn’t really know what to expect.

“What I experienced was great though: the people, living arrangements, and generally everything. I think that has a lot to do with my mentors choosing good vessels for me to be on.”

Image: Callum has now enrolled on the Deck Watchkeepers course at the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania

How were you supported during your time on the program?
The support was fantastic; I couldn’t have asked for better. My Port Authority mentors were there for me the whole way, as well as numerous people behind the scenes, to help me throughout all the vessel placements.

What’s next for your career in maritime?
I’ve already enrolled on the Deck Watchkeepers course at the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania. After that, I’ll continue my path to a career at sea. I may not know where I’ll end up, but I’m going to make the most of every opportunity along the way.

See more about
Port Authority’s Deck Cadet Program

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