The majority of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ six patrol vessels are back at sea and patrolling South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone under Nautic South Africa management.
Nautic South Africa told defenceWeb that the inshore patrol vessels Victoria Mxenge and Ruth First have been operational since August 2013 and have been successful in the seizure of 10 Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) vessels in South African waters. “These IPVs continue to patrol sensitive fishing areas with great success,” said Eddie Noble, Nautic South Africa Project Director: Vessel Operations Management.
He said that the inshore patrol vessel Lilian Ngoyi is currently undergoing her planned engine overhaul and will be back in operation at the end of February 2014 onwards. Her engine service has been ongoing since she was handed over from the South African Navy in May 2013. Overhauled engines were recently received from MTU.
The research vessel Ellen Khuzwayo successfully completed Lloyds, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and International Safety Management (ISM) certification in December 2013, and completed her first West Coast Rock Lobster survey at the beginning of January 2014.
The offshore patrol vessel Sarah Baartman is currently undergoing her final SAMSA and ISM surveys and audits, and will enter service at the end of January 2014. She will then support the IPVs in patrolling illegal fishing and associated activities.
Noble told defenceWeb that the Fisheries Research vessel Africana is undergoing major repair and refurbishment work in order to bring her back in Class, and to undertake the Lloyds and SAMSA surveys. However, due to her age, and the long lay-up, most of the onboard systems have required major maintenance. Repairs have had to be made to the engines, propellers and main prop shaft, amongst others.
Africana was originally scheduled to be ready by September last year and undertake her first research cruise in October, but due to the increased scope of work due to equipment repairs and to meet Lloyds and SAMSA requirements, this could not be achieved. Nautic and Damen intend to try and make her operational in February.
“Nautic South Africa, as the current DAFF Vessel Operations Managers, are continuously striding towards making the entire DAFF fleet of patrol and research vessels operational in accordance with Class and SAMSA requirements,” the company said. “The vessels are now in a planned operational/maintenance cycle aimed at maximising their time for operational duties.”
On April 24, 2013, Cape Town-based Nautic South Africa signed an agreement with the DAFF to support its four fisheries protection and two fisheries research vessels, as the Department attempted to get the fleet fully operational again.
Nautic’s role is to assist in vessel operations, including bunkering, crewing and other logistics to ensure that the vessels are put to sea as quickly and efficiently as possible so that vital fisheries management functions can be performed.
On April 3 last year Cape Town’s Damen Shipyards was contracted for the maintenance and repair of the DAFF fleet in order to get the vessels operational “as soon as possible”. The company said the scope of the work includes repair and ongoing maintenance. Once Damen repairs the vessels and brings them back into Class, Nautic assumes control of the vessels for operations and routine maintenance.
The South African Navy took over the management of the DAFF fleet for a period of one year on April 1, 2012, as the Department’s contract with Smit Amandla expired without a replacement company being found to manage the fleet.
A tender for the long-term management of the DAFF vessels is still under review. It was delayed after the Public Protector’s investigation into the awarding of the contract to Sekunjalo and the subsequent cancellation of the R800 million contract. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found DAFF minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson guilty of maladministration and improper and unethical conduct in the awarding of the tender.
Nautic Africa’s interim contract expires at the end of April this year.