Bengu to nav­i­gate on ice

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

THE SA AGULHAS 2 will ply through icey wa­ters on an in­ter­na­tional re­search ex­pe­di­tion.

Cap­tain Knowl­edge Bengu is set to com­mand the South African re­search ship that will be tak­ing an in­ter­na­tional team to one of the re­motest places on Earth, to probe the 1915 sink­ing of Sir Ernest Shack­le­ton’s ship En­durance.

Bengu (38) is an ice pi­lot and is li­censed to nav­i­gate some of the most dan­ger­ous oceans, where one mis­take could leave a ship stranded.

Ice pi­lotage of ves­sels is per­formed to en­sure safe nav­i­ga­tion and pre­vent ac­ci­dents at sea, as well as to pro­tect the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment.

Born in Umlazi near Dur­ban, Bengu will lead the pack on the SA Agulhas 2. The ves­sel is a South African ice­break­ing po­lar sup­ply and re­search ship owned by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs.

Bengu is re­spon­si­ble for the voy­age of the an­nual team that spends win­ter at Sanae IV, a South African Antarc­tic re­search base. He also fer­ries sci­en­tists to the base for shorter sea­sons.

In Jan­uary he will cap­tain the in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­di­tion that will in­ves­ti­gate the sink­ing of En­durance in Antarc­tica over 100 years ago.

He told Vuk’uzen­zele that as a young boy grow­ing up in a town­ship, he knew lit­tle about the mar­itime in­dus­try and, in fact, was de­ter­mined to be­come a gy­ne­col­o­gist.

“I was in­tro­duced to the ship­ping in­dus­try by my neigh­bour, who was work­ing as a sea­man at that time. He used to bring me pam­phlets and mag­a­zines and push me to go to sea one day. He went as far as or­gan­is­ing me a bur­sary to study from Uni­corn Ship­ping,” he said.

Bengu started his mar­itime stud­ies at Dur­ban Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, even­tu­ally grad­u­at­ing from the Cape Penin­sula Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy. In 2002, he joined Smit Amandla Ma­rine as a cadet.

He qual­i­fied as a ju­nior of­fi­cer in 2004 and pro­gressed through the ranks while meet­ing the strin­gent mar­itime in­dus­try re­quire­ments.

How­ever, his ca­reer got off to a choppy start when Bengu was un­able to se­cure a job af­ter grad­u­at­ing. For two years, un­til the cadet place­ment was se­cured, he worked as a labourer for his brick­layer un­cle.

Bengu is re­spon­si­ble for the safety of the crew, pas­sen­gers and ship it­self.

Knowl­edge Bengu to com­mand the SA Agulhas 2.

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