“Preparing South African Youth for a Nautical Career” – Introducing the South African Sea Cadets

Article and photos by Lt Cdr Glenn von Zeil, SA Naval Reserves

The motto “Honour and Skill” of the South African Sea Cadets is proudly displayed under their badge. These words embody the core values of the corps, Integrity, Excellence and Service, which are instilled in the Sea Cadets via their training and interaction with competent instructors. These three words embody the cardinal points of a Sea Cadet’s Compass of Life and include: Honesty, Morality, Loyalty, Responsibility, Discipline, Accountability, Self-respect and Obedience.

The Sea Cadets also teach the required knowledge and provide practical skills underwritten by accredited courses necessary for those who wish to follow a career at sea within the maritime industry.

The Sea Cadets are led and managed by experienced officers.
Left to right: Capt (SCC) Rupert Toms, outgoing Senior Officer Sea Cadets, Cdr Philip Miller, Officer Commanding TS Woltemade, Capt (SAN) Andrew Blake, recently appointed Senior Officer Sea Cadets

The Sea Cadet in South Africa movement traces its origins back the first South African Training Ship, located on Woodstock beach, Cape Town, TS Woltemade that was opened on 8 June 1905. The movement spread throughout South Africa and currently there are 15 Training Ships, of which nine are active and developing those values and skills required to ensure that the maritime industry is provided with recruits who have a passion for the sea.

Who are the Sea Cadets?

Sea Cadets are school-going boys and girls from Grade 6 to Grade 12 who enjoy having “Serious Fun” whilst learning leadership, self-discipline and maritime orientated skills.

Where and when does the training take place?

The land-based Training Ships located around the country provide a safe space with competent instructors at which training can take place. Training takes place on Fridays or Saturdays or Sunday depending on the training ship involved, with leadership camps scheduled during the school holidays. The highlight of the year is the annual camp hosted by the SA Navy in Simon’s Town.



Sea Cadets from TS Woltemade smartly turned out on parade

Sea Cadets from TS Woltemade march past proudly displaying their Colour

What is the Training Philosophy of the Sea Cadets?

“Action-centred Learning” allied to a practical “Outcomes-based Competency Assessment” is the approach which the Instructors follow. This ensures that Sea Cadets are able not only skilled to “do” but also to know “why” they do it and how to “use” available resources.

What do Sea Cadets learn?

Sea Cadets are taught and assessed on practical skills including:

  • Seamanship
  • Communications
  • Engineering
  • Catering
  • First Aid *
  • Survival at sea *
  • Fire Fighting *
  • Restricted Maritime Radio *

* Several of the courses are certified and accredited via national bodies providing the Sea Cadets with the necessary certification towards their chosen career.

Whilst undergoing the training they also develop their leadership, team building and self-discipline under the watchful eye of experienced Instructors.

Sea Cadets undergoing practical seamanship training by making eye and back splices

Sea Cadets undergoing survival at sea training whilst on an annual year end camp at the SA Navy’s Seamanship School at SAS SIMONSBERG


Sea Cadets from TS Woltemade rigging a dingy to sail on the vlei

Sea Cadets practicing “pulling” which forges teamwork

Who provides the training?

Competent volunteers, many of whom are themselves ex-Sea Cadets or parents of cadets, staff each Training Ship. Others have followed careers within the maritime industry, South African Navy or have the skills that are needed to be imparted practically.

Who supports the Sea Cadets?

The South African Sea Cadet Association is a Section 21 Company (Company Registration Number: 2025/026649/08) as well as being registered as a Non Profit Organisation 057-289-NPO, Public Benefit Organisation [including Section 18A status] 18/11/13/833, staffed by volunteers who have a passion for things nautical. They are supported by local communities, parents, the maritime industry and the SA Navy.

The maritime industry and SA Navy also provide opportunities for Sea Cadets to experience life at sea.

Funding is raised via the Sea Cadets annual fees and camp fees as well as via bequeaths, pledges and donations.

Funding is required in order to support Sea Cadets whose families may not be in a position to fund their activities.

Should you wish to contribute either funding or materially to the South Africa Sea Cadets please contact the National Treasurer, Mr E.W. Pritchard on
082 396 3635 or
edpritchard@telkomsa.net or
PO Box 7681, Newton Park, Port Elizabeth, 6055.

Chief Petty Officer Visagie, South African Naval Reserve, assists a Sea Cadet from TS Woltemade with his rope work

Sea Cadets from TS Woltemade demonstrate their silent precision drill


CPO Visagie from the South African Naval Reserve gives Sea Cadet Quartermaster and radio procedure instruction

Sea Cadets rebuild a boat under the watchful eyes of their instructors

Anyone wishing to join or assist in Sea Cadet training should contact the Commanding Officer of the Unit within their area for more details.

Location Training Ship Founded Contact Details
Cape Town TS Woltemade 1905 Cdr P. Miller
Johannesburg TS Immortelle 1916 Inactive
Springs TS Springs 1916 Sub Lt V Cooper
082 833 9421
Durban TS Tiburon 1916 Lt Cdr J. Young
East London TS iNyathi 1922 S Lt R. Heidtmann
Port Elizabeth TS Lanherne 1935 Lt Cdr G. Daniels
Vereeniging TS Bounty 1949 Lt Cdt J. Smit
Haartebeespoort Dam TS Arethusa 1955 Weekend facility
Mossel Bay TS Quteniqua 1985 Inactive
Centurion TS Fearless 1987 Lt Cdr N. Fray
Knysna TS Knysna 1989 Lt Cdr S. Eriksen
Port Alfred TS Prince Alfred 1993 Inactive
 Richards Bay TS iNkwazi 1994 Inactive
 George TS Eagle 1997 Inactive
St Francis Bay  TS Kromme 2002 Maj Gen O. Holmes


Leading Seaman Tony De Beer, South African Naval Reserve, instructs Sea Cadets on the workings of an outboard engine

Sea Cadets demonstrating their gun drill


Professional Chef and ex-seafarer Keith Arendse in the Galley with some Sea Cadet trainee chefs

Sea cadets from TS Woltemade proudly display their STCW95 Fire Fighting certificates