Sa determined to return with Nafanua II

The Police navigation officer Sa Hitilepi is on a historic voyage to Australia — and if all goes according to plan, he returns to Samoa with the new vessel Nafanua II.

The 41-year-old spoke of the importance of voyage planning with the Samoa Observer, before himself and his crew waved goodbye to the crowd at the Matautu wharf last week, to begin their journey to Australia. 

"To me, as someone who was part of the ones involved with planning, we have done everything to do with planning. Now it’s going to be executed and monitored so that we can arrive at Australia or maybe somewhere else.

"That’s what we’ll be looking forward to is the accuracy of the plans, so that the ship can make it to Australia. Noumea and then Australia — so that by the time the day we planned comes and we are in Noumea or Australia — with the right arrival date and everyone on-board is safe," he said. 

The father of seven from Salepoua'e, Saleimoa said everyone of his crew has been advised to prepare themselves for the training they will face once they dock in Australia.

"This is what everyone is advised on, that everyone going prepares themselves starting from what they first learnt on their training up to now, that they should start studying everything again, because these are everything that can be questioned in regards to preparations for the new ship.

"And that is what we are looking at, that we are able to achieve the standards expected so that the ship can be handed over to us. And with the crew we are taking, we need to show them that the crew we came with are capable enough for the new ship," he added. 

Asked what he will remember the Nafanua I for, he said it would be the attitude of the crew when the Nafanua I is about to set sail for its patrol duties.

"What I remember the most from the ship, Nafanua, is when it prepares to leave the dock for its usual patrols. That’s the time I see the crew withdraw one by one, because most of the crew fear the rough seas. 

"So it’s pretty when docked and the fact that it provides opportunities to travel but when it is time for the Nafanua to do its patrol duties, it’s either a sick certificate or someone’s father is sick or someone’s kids are sick," he said laughing.

"Those are all the excuses you hear when it is time for the Nafanua to go patrol, to try and avoid being a part of it; and it’s something unforgettable about the Nafanua’s service to Samoa. 

"Nafanua has faced so many weathers but not one time did it break down. It was always able to answer to all the rough currents it came face to face with," he added. 

He said being a part of the Nafanua's final voyage will always be a memorable experience and it is history in the making for himself as a seamen of the Police.

"It’s history in the making in my life for being able to be a part of the ones traveling back with the Nafanua to take it back to Australia. And also preparing to bring back the new ship. 

"So it’s quite monumental right now in regards to my service in the Police force on the Nafanua and her usual operations out at sea," he said.

Sa has been working on the Nafanua I since 2010 and has attended numerous training in Australia, including completing his captain's course.

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