SAN Hydrographer earns prestigious post in IHO


Captain (SAN) Abri Kampfer, the SA navy’s hydrographer, has been named first director of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).

The four ringer will take up his new position in September this year.

According to a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) statement the IHO is headed by three directors – a secretary general, first director and second director. All are elected by IHO member states and this year saw nine nominations from Bangladesh, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. Germany’s Mathias Jonas is secretary general with Kampfer first director and Mustafa Iptes of Turkey second director.

Kampfer has been the SA Navy hydrographer since 2003 and in 2009 was presented with the Alexander Dalrymple Award by the UK Hydrographic Office for outstanding work in world hydrography. As the official head chartist for the maritime arm of the SANDF, Kampfer heads the department responsible for producing all maritime charts for South African waters as well as large parts of the Southern Ocean. The charters are indispensable for maritime navigation.

When he takes up his new posting in September Kampfer will move to Monaco, where IHO is headquartered.

Among questions he was asked prior to being named to one of the most prestigious positions in the maritime domain internationally was what would he do to continue and improve IHO efforts to foster hydrographic capabilities of developing countries.

His response: “To maximise success rates, capacity building should be considered holistically with awareness and support engendered at all levels of government in the state being supported. Awareness at high levels of government should generate support for in-country officials with regards to a supported mandate for the establishment of a hydrographic capability.
“Strict adherence to the IHO Capacity Building Strategy to develop hydrographic capability in accordance with the three phases of Hydrographic Development is required. The provision of support and training should consider the current levels of development and be escalated only to the next phase once required capacity and competence are established and maintained. Better long-term progress could also be achieved if IHO Member States consider including in-country support to fledgling Hydrographic Offices through attachment of survey and cartographic experts as a capacity building strategy. Such support does occur currently as bilateral activities.”

Kampfer joined the SA Navy in 1979 and qualified as a warfare officer with particular specialist skills relating to mine warfare, before completing a CAT A Advanced survey course at RNHMS Drake and a post graduate qualification from Plymouth University. He had command of several ships including the SA Navy survey ship SAS PROTEA as his last command. He was appointed Hydrographer of the South African Navy in 2004 and represents South Africa at various committees of the IHO. He is current chairman of the IHO Regional Hydrographic Commission, Southern Africa and Islands Hydrographic Commission. He has been an active participant in IHO Capacity Building initiatives conducting several IHO Technical visits to countries within Southern Africa.