“And then I realized adventures are the best way to learn.”
The present Sea Cadet Corps was born in 1969 when the Navy League agreed to take over the six "open" Units (i.e. Units not at a school) which faced closure as a result of changes in Defence Force Cadet policy. The Navy League was already responsible for the Sea Cadet Unit at Vereeniging and the Boys Naval Brigade in Pretoria.
But South Africa may well have had Naval Cadets almost 100 years before that. In 1870 the Cape Town City Council asked the Admiralty to help them start a Unit of the Royal Naval Cadet Volunteers, but unfortunately to date we have not found proof that a Unit was actually started. However we do have proof that in 1894 a Naval Cadet Unit was formed at the Marist Brothers College in Johannesburg. In 1895 they provided a Guard-of-Honour for President Kruger when he opened the Witwatersrand Agricultural Show - probably the first public appearance of Naval Cadets in South Africa. When the Anglo-Boer War broke out, numbers at the school dropped dramatically and the Unit disappeared from the scene.
In 1904, a retired mariner started teaching a group of boys the rudiments of ropework, boating and sailing in his sail-loft. Under the guidance of Dr A P Moore Anderson, this group became the Woodstock Boys Naval Brigade.
The Real Start
But in 1905, only a year later, a group of youngsters, made up of the Woodstock Boys Naval Brigade, paraded on Woodstock beach to start what became Cape Town Naval Cadet Corps, renamed many years later as TS Woltemade. This parade, on the 8th June 1905 on Woodstock Beach saw the opening of a new training base by Rear Admiral Sir John Durnford Commander-in-Chief Royal Naval Station, Cape, and was the first time Cadets wore a Uniform. South Africa has had Sea Cadets ever since that day. This was three years before Colonel Baden-Powell held the camp on Brownsea Island which led to the formation of the Boy Scout movement.
And so the Sea Cadet movement had started in South Africa. The present day Sea Cadet Corps had its origin in 1969 as the Naval Cadet Corps of South Africa and changed its name to Sea Cadets in 1997 when it was found that the general public believed the Corps to be part of the SAN and thus there was little need to offer the Corps funds! It also brought the Sea Cadet movement in line with the International Sea Cadet Association. The South African Sea Cadets is the third oldest such movement in the world, the oldest being the Marine Society [over 250 years] and the UK Sea Cadet Corps [over 150 years]. These latter two have now merged to form the Marine Society Sea Cadets.
The Centenary of the Sea Cadet movement was held in Knysna between the 4th to the 10th July 2005. The final Knysna Town Council resolution to confer the Freedom of Entry on the Sea Cadets took place at 1500 on Thursday 7th July in an open meeting in the Council Chambers. 160 Sea Cadets paraded in the main street of Knysna, are inspected by the Executive Mayor of Knysna, DR Joy Cole, who presents Captain (SCC) W M Bartie with the illuminated scroll conferring the Freedom of Entry to the South African Sea Cadets.
A second parade at the Knysna High School took place immediately after the Main Street Parade. This second parade was the official Centenary Parade at which CNavy would be the Reviewing Officer. 160 Cadets participate. The Parade was followed by a Civic Reception in the Knysna High School Hall where presentations commemorating this unique event were made to the Chief of the Navy and the Executive Mayor in recognition of their great assistance. Specially minted Centenary Medals, designed by Lt Cdr (SCC) A Conradie and sponsored by various companies, were presented to all Sea Cadet Officers and Staff Instructors who were serving on the 8th June 2005, the actual centenary date. The Cadets all received a special embroidered badge for those who were serving on the 8th June 2005. The Officers and Staff Instructor's wives received a specially minted broach to commemorate the event and to recognise their contribution. A cake with 100 candles, sponsored by Pick 'n Pay, was cut by the Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Mudimu, the Executive Mayor, DR Joy Cole and the Vice President of the South African Sea Cadets, Maj General Oliver Holmes, using a naval sword.
Change to a Non Profit Company
From 1905 until 2005, the Sea Cadet Corps was a “charity” organisation. It was recognized as a Non Governmental Organisation and in later years was a registered Non Profit Organisation. In 2004 it was realised that fund-raising for the organisation was getting more and more difficult as a simple charity. At the same time research showed that there was a widening gap in the availability of trained seafarers. Further research revealed that if the organisation became a registered Company under Section 21 of the then Companies Act, financial benefits would be easier to derive.
At the 2004 Annual General Meeting of the then South African Sea Cadets and Association, a unanimous resolution was adopted for the transformation of the organisation into a Section 21 Company. The new Company, known as the South African Sea Cadets, was registered late in 2005 and commenced functioning as a company in February 2006.
The goals of the Company were and still are, to become an Accredited Training Provider, accredited with the Transport Sectoral Training Authority [TETA] and the South African Maritime Safety Authority [SAMSA]. This goal has yet to be met  but much progress has been made in that direction.
At the inception of the Company, it was also decided that apart from the founding Members, an invitation should be extended to specific maritime companies to become “Corporate Members” who could offer guidance to the Company relating to the maritime training acceptable to the maritime sector of South Africa. The following companies were approached and accepted this membership: South African Navy; Safmarine; Oceana Group; Irvin and Johnson; Grinrod/Unicorn Lines; Siyaloba Training Academy. This latter is an Accredited Training Provider under whose auspices the Sea Cadets have offered accredited Unit Standard training and with who a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed.
In 2012 the Company was required to change its designation under the new Companies Act. The name of the Company now became the South African Sea Cadets – NPC [NPC = Non Profit Company]. A revised Memorandum of Incorporation was adopted at the Annual Meeting of the Members/Corporate Members and Board of Directors in 2012.
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