Satini Saini, Captain/Master of the vessel, Merchant Navy

Satini Tale Saini did not plan to be Captain Unlimited, or a mer­chant navy officer.
31 Oct 2021 15:27
Satini Saini, Captain/Master of the vessel, Merchant Navy
Satini Saini, Captain/Master of the vessel, Merchant Navy

Satini Tale Saini did not plan to be Captain Unlimited, or a mer­chant navy officer.

His aspirations were in aviation, namely as an aircraft pilot.

However, when he took on his first job as a cleaner at Burns Philp, his career path was to take yet another change.

Mr Saini worked his way up from lorry delivery boy, to salesman, before he ascended his career to be part of stock keeping.

The then director of Burns Philp, James Dutta, offered to fund Mr Saini’s maritime studies, and signed him up as an apprentice.

Today, he is a qualified foreign going ship’s captain.

How he arrived at such heights of success is a tale of perseverance and commitment.

The third of seven siblings, he was raised by his grandfather, before he moved to Suva with his parents and siblings.

He is the first of his family to hold such a rank in the shipping sector


Mr Saini’s early education started in Mualevu District School, Vanua­balavu.

He moved to Suva to continue with primary education at Kalabu Prima­ry School.

“I spent my first two years of second­ary education at Sila Central High School in Vuci, Nausori and Marist Brothers High School,” he said.

Mr Saini was among the few suc­cessful students who enrolled for a five-year course as a deck apprentice, at the School of Maritime.

“It wasn’t an easy five-year ride, as finding a ship was really a challenge for many of us to carry out our practi­cal,” he said.

“I ended up with the Fiji Police Force to see through the establishment of Water Police.”

He successfully completed the re­cruit process with the Fiji Police Academy, Nasese.

Mr Saini took up further studies in Australia for Water Police matters.

“I attended the Law of the Sea course with the China Coast Guard, Nigbo, South China,” Mr Saini said.

“Over the course of the year at sea, I managed to save enough money to fund my Mate/ Master Foreign going Class 1 study with the Manukau Mar­itime School, Auckland University, New Zealand, in 2015.”

He also secured a short-term schol­arship with the New Zealand Aid.

What company do you work in now and what is your role in that company?

I am currently a relieving Captain/ Master with Cruz Holding Shipping Ltd, operating one of their charter international tugboat, Katea.

Can you tell us about your experience in the shipping industry?

I have been in the shipping industry for 20-years.

I started my career as a Merchant­Navy Deck Cadet.

My first ever ship to do my practical was onboard a local Fishing Vessel – WING FULL 2.

My initial thought was a walk in the park type of learning and working as doing my practical.

But the reality was a gruesome ex­perience.

That one trip alone almost caused the abandonment of my whole sea career.

The gruesome experience on board a fishing vessel hangs by the thread when my feet touch the fishing wharf at Walu Bay.

After two weeks at home, I was called up to join the Captain Cook Cruises at Denarau.

I jumped ship and joined the Tui Tai Adventure Cruises.

While with the Tui Tai, I managed to serve on a few occasions with the MV Adi Savusavu as both ships had the same owner, but different man­agement.

Joining a foreign going vessel was a challenge in the beginning, as I had to start again from the bottom as an Able Seaman, and work myself up to a Junior Deck Officer, as third Mate (Safety Officer) to second Mate (Navi­gation Officer) serving around each company ship at that time.

It was with this foreign going con­tainer ship that I successfully passed the oral exam with the New Zealand Maritime Authority.

That’s how I am now Captain – Mas­ter Mariners Certificates of Compe­tency Unlimited.

I have served on this ticket for the last five and a half years as a second in Command – Chief Officer to Over­all command – Captain/ Master of the vessel.

How do you manage the demands of professional and personal commit­ments?

A timely crew change is important for a seafarer and a shipping com­pany.

It reduces the mental health of a seafarer, and one remains at the peak level of his or her performance while out there away from home, away from loved ones.

Timely crew changes reduce the risk of incident and accident on board.

It balances the life working out at sea and spending quality time at home with loved ones.

Timely crew changes enables one to be at his or her peak level of perfor­mance.

It gives them time at home with loved ones before returning to ship.

Did your family background have an influence on your career choices?

Not at all.

My career choices were driven by the burning desire of ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ through my work performance.

I am a silent worker.

The process that brought me to this level of Captain Unlimited is a living testimony that having faith in God is the supernatural unseen source that propels one to work beyond his or her limits.

What do you like best about your work?

Total peace of mind, navigating in the calmness of the sea, while on Bridge watch within the early hours of the morning between 4am to 8am.


What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

When we return home and witness the sacrifice of our time away from family.

It is reflected in my wife’s beauty, my children’s education, the clothes they wear, food they eat, and a good roof over their head.

What is your philosophy about busi­ness as a whole and what vision will you bring to the shipping industry in Fiji/international?

Be yourself, don’t try to be someone else.

Respect everyone irrespective of

race, ethnicity, culture, or religion.

Work hard, never force your belief on anyone.

Preach the gospel through your at­titude of good service, honesty, and trust.

How does your role help influence the day-to-day function of the company that you worked in?

Ensure the sea worthiness of the

ship and its readiness at all levels.

Motivate crew that will enhance their performance to give their best on the task given.

Through that I proactively identified defects and possible defects and start­ed working on plan maintenance.

What have been some of the high­lights of your career so far?

The short prayer I made at FIT, Sa­mabula, where I was supposed to en­roll for a fully funded Business and Management course.

I ended up enrolling myself as a deck apprentice with the School of Maritime.

The day I left the Fiji Police Force to pursue the highest qualification in the Merchant Navy – i.e. A Master Foreign going, Unlimited.

I had to leave the benefits, good sal­ary, good department with the Fiji Po­lice Force, to walk into a foreign going ship to start again from no rank, just a normal seafarer.

This was truly a humbling experi­ence for me personally.

Have you been inspired or influenced by anyone in particular?

My mother.

A dedicated prayer warrior.

Even in our own rebellious ways, she continues to cry out loud some nights while talking to God about her children.

Her tears to God have resulted in His goodness on her sons and daughters.

We her children are what we are to­day because of her endless prayers.

What would be your message to young people who would like to join you in the future?

Respect your parents.

Listen to their advice.

If there is unforgiveness, dig it deep within you to find forgiveness.

Build bridges of good friendship.

For every one of you out there – be­gins from home.

What impact has COVID-19 pandemic had on your life?

I may be one of the few to say this, that I am truly blessed to be home during this COVID 19 Pandemic.

Every minute and second, the time I spend with my family is worth more than every time I am away from them.

The money can’t buy me back the­ time I lost being away from them.



Describe a typical day at work.

The quiet of the morning, the calmness of the sea, far beyond the horizon you begin to witness the displacing of darkness, when light breaks through. This is peace of mind.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Be around my children in the kitchen, cooking or baking.

Or in our little home garden getting our hands dirty.

When at home, what do you like to eat/cook?

Chicken chopsuey.

What is your favorite dish to cook for guests?

Cassava porridge with milk.

What is your motto in life?

Matthew 22: 37-39



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