Specialist marine solutions provider Smit Amandla Marine has partnered with local shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Cape Town to build two new vessels which will carry out supply and support work for De Beers Group Supply Chain services to offshore diamond mining operations based in Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape.
The first vessel was officially named at a traditional ceremony at the Damen shipyard in Cape Town on Thursday, October 29, in the presence of the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies.
In keeping with maritime tradition, Hull 109 was officially named ‘Aukwatowa’ by Lady Sponsor Jenny Coltman, wife of the Chairman of De Beers Group Services, Craig Coltman. ‘Aukwatowa’ is the historical Nama name for Port Nolloth, meaning ‘where the old man was washed away.’
The predecessor of Smit Amandla Marine first operated launch services from Port Nolloth on behalf of De Beers Marine Namibia vessels in 1999, supporting the operations of the world’s largest mining and exploration fleet.
Coltman said: “The contract to build two new supply launches demonstrates the strong partnership between De Beers and Smit Amanda Marine to ensure we have a sustainable business benefitting Namibia and the west coast of the far Northern Cape for today and for the future.”
De Beers requested Smit Amandla Marine to secure the appropriate vessels and provide the requisite services. Damen Shipyards Cape Town was, in turn, approached to design and build the vessels.
The decision to build the two vessels locally in South Africa was made in support of the companies’ commitment to the objectives of the National Industrial Participation Programme (NIPP), in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry.
According to Sam Montsi, Chairman of Damen Shipyards Cape Town, the Shoalbuster vessels had never been built in South Africa before.
“These are robust, highly manoeuvrable multi-purpose vessels able to operate in deep as well as shallow seas,” Montsi explained. “The majority of vessels this shipyard has built over the years are ordinary types such as pilot vessels, patrol vessels and recently, multi-use fast cruise supply vessels. We therefore had to turn to our major shareholder, the Damen Shipyards Group in Holland, for guidance and support.”
Damen Shipyards Cape Town entered into an agreement with Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld to provide the designs, the technologies and the training support.
Meanwhile, the build of the second Shoalbuster for SMIT Amandla is proceeding smoothly and on schedule for delivery in 2016.
Smit Amandla Marine Managing Director Paul Maclons: “While it is often more cost effective to build these vessels in the East, it made sense to explore other options and support client and country priorities, with our company investing significantly into the local economy. The synergy between all role players is reflected in the shared commitment to ensuring this project derives maximum benefit for South Africa in growing and transforming the maritime industry.”
Built to a Shoalbuster design, 30m in length with a bollard pull of 24.5 tonnes; the R150m two-vessel new build programme has effectively stimulated skills transfer, enterprise development and job creation, and supports the priorities of Operation Phakisa with respect to stimulating the South African maritime economy.
Montsi says the launch of the new vessels represents a unique example of what a positive partnership in the private sector can do to support South Africa’s economic development.
“In particular, it gives meaning to the government ambitions under Operation Phakisa in order to grow, deepen and broaden the maritime economy, in the process creating value in the jobs as well as bringing new technologies to our country,” he said. “The vessels not only showcase co-operation between three South African companies, but represent real transfer of technology to South Africa as well as the successful training and up skilling of our staff by Hardinxveld.”
Montsi continued: “I’m proud to announce the vessel has been built within the budgets and times agreed between Smit Amandla Marine and our shipyard. Roughly 90,000 man hours were expended in building the vessel, jobs have been secured and more importantly, our technical staff and some of our younger apprentices gained valuable experience working on this vessel.”
Minister Davies noted that Government had seen the importance of the shipbuilding industry in South Africa, with about 2,000 jobs in actual shipbuilding and over and above that, component manufacturers.
“We have identified under Operation Phakisa we have the opportunity to more or less triple the number of people employed as well as the contribution to the GDP between now and 2033 from the ocean economy,” Davies said.
The South African ship and boatbuilding sector has developed a particular strength in sailing multi-hull catamarans, with some South African companies seen as global leaders. South African companies have also developed capacity in niche segments in commercial and public sector markets, such as fire-fighting boats and crew transport boats for the oil and gas sector.
As a result of Operation Phakisa, the government now requires all public sector purchases of working vessels to have a minimum of 60% local content. This, Davies said, has resulted in the almost immediate award of a R1.4 billion tender to SA Shipyards of Durban.
Davies noted further that “procuring entities have included the 60% local content requirement in their RFOs (Request for Offer), e.g. Project Hotel and Project Biro, with a combined value of over R6 billion.”
“This is an indication of our commitment as government when we make decisions in the public sector about the acquisition of working vessels,” Davies told defenceWeb, “We will be putting our money where our mouth is, we’ll be buying local vessels for the public sector. That includes all the fire fighting, tug boats and those types of things and those will be procured from South African shipyards.”
Referring specifically the two new Damen-built vessels acquired by Smit Amandla Marine, Davies said “I’m happy to see the private sector has followed through with similar processes and decisions. The different partners from abroad have come together and the National Industrial Participation programme has facilitated this localisation that we have here today.”
“It is a statement that we have an opportunity in South Africa, we have the capability to produce these kinds of vessels,” Davies concluded.