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A shipmaster’s commitment at the helm of a training ship


Decades-long service on board led Captain George Dela Cruz a witness to cadets’ stories of joy, challenges and successes on the AMOSUP’s training vessel

Snappy and gallant at 60, Captain Jorge P Dela Cruz continues to exude a strong and stalwart stature in his white officer uniform. But with his authority comes a very warm, welcoming and approachable fatherly aura. Captain Jorge has been the long-serving shipmaster of AMOSUP’s first-ever training ship, Kapitan Felix Oca (KFO), since 2011. But his journey aboard KFO started decades ago when he joined the ship under the leadership of then Captain Victorino P. Rondain Jr.

Captain Jorge was a 21-year-old second mate when he first set foot onboard AMOSUP’s newly-acquired general cargo ship converted to a training ship, the MV Seiun I Maru, from the Ministry of Japan in 1997. The ship was renamed as T/S Kapitan Felix Oca and was registered under the Philippines flag. Since then, Captain Jorge rose from the ranks; he became chief officer about a year after joining KFO, and was promoted to captain in 2011 after securing his master mariner license.

Captain Jorge attributes his unwavering commitment and service at the helm of KFO, to the tremendous impact of AMOSUP Founder, Captain Gregorio S Oca’s legacy on his life. He said Captain Oca encouraged him to live a purposeful life as a mariner not just for himself, but also for the younger generation of aspiring seafarers. This motivation also energised him to work harder for his family. “Siguro para bang panata na. Siyempre yung loyalty kay Capt. Gregorio Oca. Siguro yun ang number one kaya kami nagtagal dito.” (Perhaps it is my vow. Of course, my loyalty to Capt. Gregorio Oca. That is the number one reason why we have stayed here for a long time.)

Because of his decades-long service aboard one of the oldest and biggest training ships in the country, Captain Jorge was able to raise three equally driven and capable children with his wife, Imelda. Their firstborn, Jennah Marie, is now a city prosecutor; their second, Jan Marvin, followed in Captain Jorge’s footsteps, and is now on his way to becoming a captain himself; while his youngest, Joanah Mariz graduated with a bachelor of science degree in psychology.

Captain Jorge said he is grateful for his family, and that they keep him going. “Yun yung pinaka number one na na-inspire ako, sa family ko.

A vessel of hope

The KFO has been Captain Jorge’s second home for over two decades, where he has witnessed countless stories of joy, laughter, trials, challenges, failures, and successes. But according to the captain, the most memorable experience for him was when the KFO became a vessel of hope for thousands of families affected by the devastating super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that wreaked havoc in the Visayas (central Philippines) in 2013. “The most memorable experience was when we brought relief goods and medical mission to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013,” he said.

But even after that meaningful voyage, Captain Jorge said he realised that KFO has always been a vessel of hope from the very start: “It is a vessel of hope for cadets who dream of becoming successful seafarers to give their families a better life.”

The KFO is a 5,000 GRT dedicated training ship that can accommodate up to 200 cadets at any given time. It is fully equipped with a training bridge separate from the navigation bridge, and classrooms, among other facilities. In compliance with the IMO’s training requirements, KFO is also equipped with Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA), Electronic Chart Display System (ECDIs) and Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS). Courses conducted on board comply with the high training standards of the IMO.

The only one in its class in the country, the Kapitan Felix Oca has been an important training venue for the cadets of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific, students of the AMOSUP Seamen’s Training Center as well as of other maritime schools.

Inspiring the next generation of seafarers

Captain Jorge understands that the cadets’ shipboard training is a crucial, if not the most important aspect of their maritime training and education. He said he is humbled and honoured to be a part of their journey in realising their dreams of becoming marine officers.

“As a master of the vessel, siyempre training ship, so dapat ikaw talaga yung mag-mold and mag-set ng good example to the cadet para ma-encourage mo lahat yung mga bata for the success of their maritime course.” (As a master of the vessel, of course training ship, I am responsible in molding and in setting a good example to the cadet so that I can encourage the young ones for the success of their maritime course.) SF