FNU’s FMA launches Lifeboat

Press Release Posted On: August 9, 2023

Fiji National University’s Fiji Maritime Academy CEO Captain Rajitha Semage, FNU Chancellor and Council Chair Semesa Karavaki, Tui Suva, Minister for Public Works, Meteorological Services, and Transport, Ro Filipe Tuisawau and Swire Shipping Regional Manager, Pacific Island, Alex Pattison at the launch of the lifeboat in the background.

The Fiji National University’s (FNU) Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA) strives to enrich students’ educational journey through the provision of relevant equipment to aid in the learning, teaching, and practical experience for students. 

The Academy was recently provided with a lifeboat worth USD$80,000 by Swire Shipping. The MV Laucala Chief vessel was commissioned today by the Minister for Public Works, Meteorological Services, and Transport, Honourable Ro Filipe Tuisawau.

With the capacity to carry 26 crew members, this invaluable equipment promises to open new horizons for aspiring seafarers, providing hands-on opportunities and a dynamic learning platform in maritime training.

FNU Chancellor and Chair of Council, Semesa Karavaki said FMA remained steadfast in its commitment to upgrading courses for serving deck and engine room officers.

The institution’s two crucial departments, Nautical Science & Marine Engineering have been instrumental in shaping the careers of numerous maritime professionals.

“The invaluable support from partners like Swire Shipping has been instrumental in FMA’s progress. The sponsorship of the brand-new lifeboat strengthens the ties between our academy and Swire, enhancing practical training for all seafarers,” Karavaki said.

“FMA’s training equips seafarers with essential skills in safe navigation, reducing the risk of accidents and environmental impacts like oil spills. The academy also emphasises environmental responsibility, educating maritime professionals on protecting marine biodiversity.”

“FMA’s training programmes create employment opportunities, supporting Fiji’s maritime sector, which is vital to the nation’s economy. By producing qualified professionals, FMA strengthens the sector’s contributions to economic growth.”

Minister for Public Works, Meteorological Services, and Transport, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, said the maritime industry was an evolving industry, adding that there was a need to enhance maritime education and skills to be on par with the ever-changing technologies today.

“The Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA) has made its mark as one of the leading Maritime Training Institutions in the region and has, to some extent, embraced regionalism with the education and upskilling of students from around the Pacific. I am told that FMA trains more than 200 main programme students and more than 2000 short course students, including government and maritime industry seafarers,” Honourable Tuisawau said.

“We also acknowledge Swire Shipping for taking an active interest in the education and up-skilling of our students. I have been told that the previously used lifeboat, the Vulisoko, is more than 40 years old and is to be retired. This newly donated lifeboat will be used for safety and survival training.”

Swire Shipping Regional Manager, Pacific Island, Alex Pattison said the company has a strong relationship with FMA, and the company has recruited 49 cadets, including 20 from the Nautical Science and 29 from the Marine Engineering Officer cadet streams from the FMA.

“The Fiji Maritime Academy has been our close partner in Fiji for the past seven years. Swire Shipping has been working closely with FMA to bring in graduates who meet our employment assessment standards, and those on board our ships have shown great aptitude and a strong work ethic,” he said.

“We are proud that this lifeboat will be put to good use, helping to train aspiring cadets here for the next 25 years.”

FMA Chief Executive Officer, Captain Rajitha Semage, added that the development ensured our readiness for the years to come in providing quality training services.

“FMA faced the challenge of an ageing lifeboat used for survival practical’s. We requested assistance from Swire, and they immediately stepped in to help. Despite the difficulty in finding a suitable replacement, Swire went above and beyond to provide a brand-new lifeboat from China, which was delivered to FMA in May 2023,” Captain Semage said.

“Throughout the entire process, Swire’s commitment to assisting FMA was unwavering, demonstrating their genuine support and care for the institute. Their gesture has been invaluable and deeply appreciated.”