Three of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ patrol and research vessels are set to be back at sea within a month, when they will join the three already at sea patrolling South African waters.
Currently two of the inshore patrol vessels (IPVs), Victoria Mxenge and Ruth First, are patrolling inshore along the east and west coasts of South Africa. They have been operational since August 2013. Specific operations to target hot spots are part of these patrols, said Nautic South Africa, which is responsible for managing the vessels.
The IPVs spend a week and a half at sea, after which they return to port for refuelling and crew supplies before returning to patrol work. Since Nautic South Africa restored them to operational fitness in August 2013, they have had significant success patrolling and monitoring local waters, the company said, leading to the arrest of ten vessels violating South African maritime laws.
They will soon be joined by the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Sarah Baartman, which is due to enter service in the third week of this month. She was originally expected to begin patrols at the end of January but this was delayed due to davit work.
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 Ellen Kuzwayo is mostly involved in rock lobster research, as well as research on linefish, sharks, pelagic long-lining and marine mammals. The vessel is equipped for investigations up to 1000-metre depths and is used as part of the South African government’s commitment to the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, operated mainly within South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The inshore patrol vessel Lilian Ngoyi is currently undergoing her planned engine overhaul. She will be operational at the end of March, a bit later than expected due to significant work required on her propulsion system.
Extensive work required on the fisheries research vessel Africana also means that she will only be operational around the end of March, as there is still a significant amount of work and surveys to get through before she can begin research voyages.
On April 24, 2013, Cape Town-based Nautic South Africa signed an agreement with the DAFF to take over the four fisheries protection and two fisheries research vessels from the South African Navy and get them fully operational again, ensuring they comply with Flag, Class and SAMSA requirements.
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.
“Nautic South Africa’s proactive, can-do approach has played a big role in getting these vessels back to sea,” said Eddie Noble, Head of Vessel Operations Management for Nautic South Africa. “The successes that have already been achieved by the vessels being at sea can be added to as we kick into full swing operations for the DAFF.”
“Now that the DAFF vessels are back in operation, we can focus on providing them with optimal long-term support, aimed at reducing down-time,” Noble said. “We do this by implementing a planned maintenance system and carefully rotating the vessels. We also ensure that vessel operation functions are optimized. In doing all of this we’re able to pass on cost reductions to the DAFF.”
Damen Shipyards is also involved in supporting the DAFF fleet and is responsible for maintenance and repair. Once Damen repairs the vessels and brings them back into Class, Nautic assumes control of the vessels for operations and routine maintenance.
Nautic South Africa’s interim contract expires at the end of April this year but a tender for the long-term management of the DAFF vessels is still outstanding.