Monday, July 31, 2017

German Shipping Lines and South Pacific Sailor School Celebrates Fifty Years

Maritime Rescue Half Century Ago Inspired Creation of Training Centre
Shipping News Feature
TARAWA – GERMANY – Around 200 guests celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Marine Training Centre (MTC) on the Kiribati island of Tarawa in the South Pacific last week. Amongst the guests were representatives from Hamburg Süd, who co-founded the school for training seafarers 50 years ago following a maritime rescue.

The German shipping line came to sponsor a school for sailors after an emergency aboard a Hamburg Süd ship in 1964. A crew member who had been injured needed urgent help and in the ensuing rescue operation, the local fishermen displayed great nautical prowess. The captain enthusiastically reported these skills to the head office in Hamburg, which gave rise to the idea of fostering the enormous nautical potential of the Kiribati and training them as qualified seafarers.

The German company is also the managing partner of the joint venture SPMS (South Pacific Marine Services GbR), which brokers the placement of trained seafarers with the partner shipping companies. In addition to Hamburg Süd, the sponsors of training, and Kiribati’s largest employers, include the shipping companies Aug. Bolten, F. Laeisz, Fisser & van Doornum, Leonhardt & Blumberg, and Reederei Nord. Currently, over 625 seafarers trained there are employed on the ships of these companies. More than 5,000 seafarers have received training since 1967.

The MTC is operated by the Kiribati Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development, receiving financial support from the governments of Australia and New Zealand as well as the German Embassy. Christoph Gessner, Managing Director of the Hamburg Süd subsidiary Columbus Shipmanagement GmbH and Chairman of SPMS, said:

“The founding of the MTC is a win–win situation for everyone involved. To this day, we as shipping companies can rely on the expertise of the seafarers, who are trained here over an 18-month period for their service at sea. And many young Kiribati obtain a stable job thanks to the training.”

Photo: The MTC boat harbour, courtesy of MTC.