Press releases

50 years of the Marine Training Centre Tarawa

Success story: A half century of seafarer training in the South Pacific

Hamburg, July 31, 2017. End of July around 200 guests celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Marine Training Centre (MTC) on the Kiribati island of Tarawa in the South Pacific. Even though some 13,700 kilometers lie between Hamburg and the school in Tarawa, these places are closely associated with each other.

Hamburg Süd co-founded the school for training seafarers 50 years ago. The 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. The cooperation of all partners shows the great importance of the school for the region, but also for the shipping companies in Hamburg.

Christoph Gessner, Managing Director of the Hamburg Süd subsidiary Columbus Shipmanagement GmbH and Chairman of SPMS: “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.”

The high quality of training is ensured by modern technical equipment as well as the STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) of the IMO (International Maritime Organization). The suitability of the seafarers for service at sea is attested locally by a physician in accordance with the guidelines of Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr, the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for Transport and Traffic.

On the genesis: An emergency aboard a Hamburg Süd ship in 1964 led to the founding of the Marine Training Centre a short time later. A crew member who had been injured needed urgent help. In the ensuing rescue operation, the local fishermen displayed great nautical prowess. The captain enthusiastically reported these skills to the head office in Hamburg. This gave rise to the idea of fostering the enormous nautical potential of the Kiribati and training them as qualified seafarers.