First woman pilot for Saldanha Bay

Saldanha Bay has its first qualified female pilot with an Open Licence certification. Salmaa Vincent piloted her first vessel into the port in July.

Open Licence certification permits marine pilots to guide ships of any type and size in and out of port.

Aged 30, Vincent received a bursary from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in 2005, which allowed her to pursue one year of Maritime Studies at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, followed by 18 months at sea with Safmarine (now Maersk).

In 2008, she passed her oral exam with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), and was issued with a Deck Officer certificate of competency.

Transnet then enrolled her in a tug master programme, which she completed in January 2009. This was followed by oral exams at SAMSA in order to qualify for her Master Port Operations certificate.

She went on to do a year of marine pilot training, which included a two weeks practical ship handling in Rotterdam. Upon her return, she completed simulation training in Durban at the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence.

Vincent completed her practical pilot training in Cape Town in September 2011, and qualified as a marine pilot.

She served at the Port of Cape Town for three months before returning to the Port of Saldanha.

Sharing her first experience of piloting a large vessel, Vincent says it was nerve wracking at first, but “this was soon overtaken by exhilaration and excitement at my ability.

“Throughout the experience I concentrated and exercised caution to ensure that I was successful,” she said.

She attributes her success to TNPA’s efforts to empower women in its environment, which she said she has witnessed through her journey.

“I read a lot about women within TNPA doing remarkable things, making a difference and taking on senior and leadership roles, which inspires me,” Vincent says.

Her advice to other women interested in breaking through the glass ceiling is: “You have to be determined and have strong character. Be clear about what you would like to get out of your career. You also need perseverance because you have to work with mother nature, and you must be physically fit”.

In her spare time, Vincent enjoys spending time with her 16-month-old daughter, travelling and going to the beach.

She said she was excited about the future of South Africa’s ports, adding that while her dream is to obtain pilot licences in other ports, there are exciting things happening at the Port of Saldanha.

“Transnet is developing new infrastructure and expanding and stimulating the economy. With the development of Saldanha port infrastructure to support the oil and gas sector, the towns of Saldanha and Langebaan will be the jewels of the West Coast with overseas companies establishing businesses here and totally new and bigger vessels visiting our ports. There is a lot to look forward to,” she said.

Vincent, who completed her Harbour Master Diploma in October 2016, through IBC Academy in London, said she would like to pursue her MBA in the near future.

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SAIMI Project Manager: Odwa Mtati – 082 783 6810
Siyathetha: Ed Richardson: +27 41 582 3750 / 083 656 9757