This is the single largest number of South African students to graduate in maritime studies from the World Maritime University in its 30-year history.
The students were awarded the degrees during a prestigious graduation ceremony held on Sunday at the United Nations World Maritime University (WMU).
The students were awarded scholarships to study abroad by the Department of Higher Education and Training through the National Skills Fund.
Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande and Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga paid tribute to the achievements of the Class of 2014.
Minister Nzimande said the graduation coincided with the adoption of the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime (AIM) strategy by the Heads of State at the African Union early this year.
He said the development of these high-level skills will help to address the present maritime skills needs of the country as well as the continental maritime development agenda.
The Minister also noted the recent launch of Operation Phakisa by President Jacob Zuma which has prioritised the development of South Africa's oceans economy.
“It is estimated that the maritime economy has the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and can create more than one million jobs by 2033.
“Hence the conscious efforts by government to invest in maritime education and training in the entire value chain from technical and vocational education through to the high level knowledge of research, development and innovation,” said Minister Nzimande.
Of the 118 graduates from 47 participating countries, Gareth John Courtois from KwaZulu-Natal achieved a distinction and obtained a Chancellor’s award for excellence.
The students displayed enthusiasm and eagerness to tackle the challenges facing the maritime industry in South Africa.
A strong need has been identified for South Africa to establish a dedicated maritime institute that will offer a range of maritime courses for South Africans and the continent.
Vice Chancellor of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Professor Derrick Swartz, has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Maritime University which will see both institutions collaborating in offering similar programmes in South Africa.
The World Maritime University has agreed to support NMMU to become an apex maritime institute for South Africa.
As an ongoing commitment to the development of maritime skills, another group of 13 young South Africans commenced their studies at the World Maritime University in September 2014.