PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
The Tuvalu Maritime School: A
By Fred Resture
Acting Captain Superintendent
Tuvalu Maritime School
FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (February 1999-Tuvalu Echoes)---The Tuvalu Maritime School
(TMS) was born in September 1979 with assistance from the Australian government.
The school is located on Amatuku, one of a string of islets which make up the
atoll of Funafuti, approximately five nautical miles across the lagoon from the
center of government. The islet was chosen mainly because of its isolation,
which allows the training facilities to be operated as if it were a ship.
The objective of the school is to provide quality training for Tuvalu seafarers
at all levels to enhance their opportunities for employment in the maritime
The school is comprised of fully residential, dormitory style accommodations for
60 pre-sea trainees, training facilities for deck, engine and catering ratings,
and residential accommodation for nine staff members and their families.
The training facilities include classrooms, a library/audio visual center, a
galley/mess room, fully equipped engine and seamanship workshops and a survival
center, including a motor lifeboat on gravity davits. A fire fighting center is
being constructed and completion is expected by May of this year. A
cargo-handling simulator also has been installed at the school.
Staffing is a mix of overseas and local instructors. The departures of the
Captain Superintendent and the Marine Officer late last year and early this year
respectively has resulted in their being no expatriate officer.
TMS offers training programs for both new entrants to the maritime industry and
for experienced seafarers seeking higher qualifications and personal
There are three pre-sea programs each taking 20 new entrants, and each year,
approximately 150 experience seaman attended revalidation programs to ensure
that their survival, fire fighting, personal safety and first aid skills are up
to date. Although some young men are studying to become engineers and deck
officers, no formal training is carried out at TMS.
At present, training at TMS is restricted to young men. Much effort has been
expended to change traditional culture values and perceptions, but Tuvalu
seafarers still decline to employ women.
The pre-sea training program for trainees comprises a 12-month training period.
During the first four months, the program introduces trainees to basic skills
associated with the deck, engine room and catering departments, who then spent
four months aboard the "MV Nivaga II," doing their sea time. Their
last four months ashore are used to refresh basic skills and acquire more
advance knowledge in their chosen department. At the end of 12 months, the
trainees graduate and, from there they can enter the maritime industry
At the moment, the 48th and the 50th courses are doing their shore training,
while the 49th course is undergoing sea training.
The school has started recruiting exams for the 51st course. So far, the young
men on Funafuti Island have completed their exams/interviews and a team of
instructors is going to do the same on the outer islands when the "MV
Nivaga II" sails.