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SAMSA is more than a Platinum Partner to the NSRI. The two organisations work closely together to fulfil their individual mandates, while also sharing the common goal of ensuring safety at sea.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) was established in April 1998 with a clear mandate of ensuring safety of life and property at sea, the prevention and combating of pollution to the environment from ships and the promotion of South Africa’s maritime interests.

SAMSA’s responsibilities include the administration of Merchant Shipping Regulations (National Small Vessel Safety), which extends to safe boating in inland waterways accessible to the public; and implementing and executing the long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) of vessels along the South African coastline, with a view to securing these waters in light of the threat of pirate attacks, particularly along the East Coast.

South Africa’s global maritime interests

An important part of SAMSA’s mandate is to promote South Africa's maritime interests and position the country as an international Maritime Centre. To this end, SAMSA plays a role in the development and implementation of national and international maritime safety and marine environment protection standards. SAMSA also operates the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) that coordinates rescue efforts to aid people in maritime distress situations in the internationally agreed upon South African Search and Rescue Region.

Like the NSRI, SAMSA creates public awareness around maritime safety and environmental preservation. SAMSA publishes ship and environmental safety standards and makes them available to the public. The entity also publishes the annual State of the Maritime Safety report for South Africa. The organisation also investigates maritime casualties, administers South African’s ship administration system, oversees responsible maritime transport operations, enforces training standards and the competency of seafarers, and manages responses to marine pollution incidents and other maritime emergencies.

A mutually beneficial alliance

The relationship between the NSRI and SAMSA is a symbiotic one – we provide a volunteer-based rescue service, thereby supporting SAMSA’s mission of ‘Safe ships, clean seas’, while SAMSA supports us with financial and regulatory assistance.

We are grateful for the following assistance:

• All commercial vessels regardless of size or propulsion are required to be surveyed annually by a SAMSA officer or a SAMSA appointed small vessel surveyor and issued with a Local General Safety Certificate (LGSC). SAMSA does this for our 105 vessels for free each year.
• SAMSA provides the necessary certifications for the SRC VHF (Short Range Certificate Very High Frequency radio) courses for our coxwains and volunteers.

• SAMSA assists with various exemptions, eg lifejackets for our volunteers, and provides accreditation for the courses we offer, including Life Raft, Electronic Navigation Systems (ENS) and VHF radio operation courses.

In return the NSRI, in its position as an NGO and non-law enforcement entity, is able to reach out to subsistence and other fishermen to provide training on and the distribution of Automatic identification systems (AIS) transponders in partnership with SAMSA. (Automatic identification systems (AIS) transponders are designed to provide the position, identification and other information about vessel to other ships and coastal authorities.)

While this identification method is largely for safety reasons, they are viewed with some suspicion among the boating community, as being a way for authorities to keep tabs on activities. The NSRI’s neutral, non-law enforcement positions enables us to convey important safety messages, including the use of the AIS transponders, effectively, thereby assuring those out on the water that if they get into difficulty they will be assisted without fear of reprisal.

Platinum Partner

On 1 April 2018, SAMSA resumed its Platinum Partnership with the NSRI, “a strategic partner who by the nature of its business and operations, executes some elements of the SAMSA mandate, in ensuring safety of life and property at sea. Therefore, partnering with the NSRI was an easy decision for SAMSA due to inherent and mutually beneficial operations and activities carried out by the two organisations. SAMSA is proud and privileged to partner with the NSRI,” says Vusi September, Executive: Corporate Affairs.

“The South African Maritime Safety Authority depends on the NSRI to provide maritime and inland rescue services in South Africa and as a partner provides essential administrative support to ensure that our fleet is inspected and surveyed annually, that our education and training regimes are compliant and that we have professional advice with respect to maritime matters. We look forward to broadening the scope of the partnership and increasing the financial contributions by SAMSA to our programmes to facilitate a water-safe nation,” says NSRI CEO Dr Cleeve Robertson.

SAMSA and World Maritime Day 2021

The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organization (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry's contribution towards the world's economy, especially in shipping. This year, World Maritime Day will take place on 30 September. The theme for 2021, “Seafarers: at the core of shipping's future”, aims to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable role they play now and will continue to play in the future.

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