Students were given the opportunity to board and tour the U.S Merchant Marine Training ship, Golden Bear, which is anchored at Apia Harbour for three days.
National University of Samoa students enrolled in the Maritime school and Year 13 students from local colleges were given a tour of how the ship works and also learned about U.S. training for civilian merchant marine officers.
Having spent 12 years at sea, Nautical Lecturer of N.U.S, Taulapapa Audoa Tuiletufuga, who accompanied his students, said there are many different roles in the maritime sector that you could fit into once you have earned your nautical qualifications and had some experience at sea.
“You can be a captain, you can be second or third mate, you could be a sailor and seafarer. It depends on how well you work with the chain of command, it’s a bit harsh at times. My first experience on a merchant ship was cargo because in six months we were expected to know what to do on a daily basis that’s the learning process. You start as a trainee, then you become a cadet and so on.There are only about eight stages of command.”
A career in the maritime sector can be lucrative with some perks, one of the major ones being the opportunity to travel all over the world. However, according to Taulapapa, the sea life is not for everyone and there are some challenges in living the life of a seafarer. Being away at sea puts pressures on relationships and living in close headquarters with people you see everyday for the duration of your contract can cause tensions.
“Yes you can make good money, especially as you climb the ranks. For me, I enrolled because I know that this is for me because I love the sea,” Taulapapa said. “I grew up in Savaii, in the village of Auala. After the cyclone in 91 and 94, I moved back to Upolu and from then on I just feel like going back into the sea. As long as I know where I want to be. Some people are here because of the money and the exposure to overseas and that’s ok.”
Students from Pesega College enjoyed asking questions to the U.S. officers of various ranks on board the Golden Bear and one Year 13 student from the college said to the Samoa Observer that she was excited to learn more about a career in the maritime sector.
“You might see me here next year. What I like about it is that they travel around the world and then explore other cultures and other countries. It looks pretty fun and also because of the ocean, who wouldn’t love being on the ocean. It’s a beautiful sight and is part of us. Samoans are natural voyagers.”
The Training Ship Golden Bear (T.S.G.B.) is the primary training platform for the California State University Maritime Academy (C.S.U.M.A.), a campus of the California State University. It is the only ship of its kind that has simulation capabilities on board.
Cadets are able to apply the technological skills introduced in the classroom on board the ship and each summer, cadets in their first and third year depart with licensed faculty officers for two months during the annual Training Cruise.
According to their prospectus, during these periods at sea, intellectual learning, intellectual learning, applied technology and leadership development blend daily as cadets apply what they have learned in the classroom, in the lab, in the Corps and on the waterfront.
This is the first time the Training Ship Golden Bear has been in Samoa and they will be continuing on to the Solomon Islands, Saipan, Hawaii and San Diego before heading back to their headquarters.