Damen Shipyards delivers second support vessel to SMIT Amandla Marine


The second of two vessels destined to support the world’s largest offshore diamond mining operation has been officially named, seven months after the first vessel was delivered.

Specialist marine solutions provider SMIT Amandla Marine had 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 for offshore diamond mining operations based in Port Nolloth on the Northern Cape west coast.

The second vessel was officially named at a traditional ceremony which took place at the Damen shipyard in Cape Town on 3 June. In keeping with maritime tradition, the hull was officially named ‘Aogatoa’ by Lady Sponsor Mrs. Adri Nelson, Supply Chain Centre Manager for De Beers Group Services in Port Nolloth.

The naming of the Aogatoa, which means “safe return”, signals the completion of the newbuild project which began in 2013 with a commitment by De Beers and SMIT Amandla Marine to replace the then operating vessels. The predecessor of SMIT Amandla Marine first operated launch services from Port Nolloth on behalf of De Beers Marine Namibia in 1999, supporting the operations of the world’s largest mining and exploration fleet.

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.

The 30 metre Shoalbuster design, which had never been built in South Africa before, has a bollard pull of 24.5 tonnes. According to Hennie du Plessis (Head of Supply Chain at The De Beers Group of Companies), the two new vessels have significant advantages over the vessels they’re replacing. “With the increased deck space, it afforded us the opportunity to optimise the loading space, ultimately resulting in less trips out to the vessels,” he said.

The ‘Aogatoa’ will join her sister vessel, the ‘Aukwatowa’, in the coming week.

Sam Montsi, Chairman of Damen Shipyards Cape Town, said the R150 million 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.

He told the assembled guests that “while the Government is plagued by many problems…it has, at least in one instance, taken a reassuring lead by declaring in Operaton Phakisa that all vessels required by the State and State owned entities will be built in the country.
“This initiative gives us hope that the country has finally woken to the folly of exporting its business, in the process creating jobs in foreign countries,” Monstsi said.

Montsi continued: “It then remains for us, in the private sector, to follow the lead by government and ensure that indeed South African business is martialled to grow jobs and opportunities in our country. This country has capabilities, it has expertise, it has facilities, it has access to technologies to build even very sophisticated vessels here.”