The “acquisition” of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) vessels has cost the Navy about R21 million in the 11 months it has managed the seven-strong fleet.
Confirming that the Navy’s expertise is no longer going to be part of future management plans for the seven ships, DAFF spokesman Carol Moses said the memorandum of understanding (MOU) “will not be extended”.
Instead Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s department will be managing the vessels with the support of the local fishing and maritime industry.
“The tender process for management of both the fisheries patrol vessels as well as the research vessels has commenced and is expected to be advertised by the end of March,” Moses said, adding that the, “immediate and urgent focus” was to get the Africana and Sarah Baartman operational.
A maritime industry insider said the R21 million figure given by DAFF would probably have been for personnel, fuel and certain operating costs associated with the DAFF fleet. It is unclear at this stage, with the financial year-end looming, whether the Navy will start any more refurbishment work the DAFF fleet. At the time of arrival in Navy fleet headquarters main port of Simon’s town last year a senior naval officer said described the “new” Navy acquisitions as “just hulls”.
This meant extensive and intensive work had to be done on the DAFF vessels to ensure seaworthiness and resulted in at least three warships having to fill the gaps left by the non-availability of ships purpose-designed to do fisheries patrols and research.
The MOU entered into between Joemat-Pettersson and former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu made provision for the Navy to crew the DAFF ships as well as undertake technical management. This would see the Navy take over maintenance, repair and life cycle management as well as provisioning, bunkering, operation, accounting, safety and seaworthiness. The MOU’s valid date ends on March 31.