South African shipbuilding and maritime solutions company Nautic South Africa has confirmed it will transfer the operation of the six Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) research and patrol vessels currently under its management to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA’s) Special Marine Projects Division at the end of October 2014.
SAMSA’s current mandate is to ensure safety of life and property at sea, prevent and combat pollution from ships in the marine environment, and to promote the republic’s maritime interests.
Nautic South Africa, a 100% local maritime company, was initially awarded a six-month interim contract by the DAFF in August 2013 to manage the return of the research and patrol vessels from the SA Navy back to the DAFF.
Since Nautic South Africa restored the DAFF vessels to operational fitness in August 2013, the vessels have had significant success patrolling and monitoring local waters and protecting South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and have continued their vital role in the fight against maritime-related crimes such as piracy, drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing and oil pollution abatement.
According to Eddie Noble, Project Director: Vessel Operations for Nautic South Africa: “Although DAFF had twice extended the initial six-month interim contract with Nautic South Africa, the contract could not be extended any further, due to supply chain management regulations and while a decision on the long-term management tender for these vessels remains outstanding.”
He says the DAFF hopes to make a decision on the long-term management of the vessels during the next 12 months, while the vessels are under the management of SAMSA, a state-owned entity.
“While Nautic South Africa is understandably disappointed that these vessels will no longer be under our management as of end October, we wish SAMSA every success with the continued operation of these vessels.
“It has been an honour and a privilege for Nautic South Africa to support these vessels for the past 18 months and to ensure that the service we provided – which included bunkering, crewing and logistic services and technical management – allowing the vessels to spend as much time as possible at sea and participate in a number of patrol and research duties.”
“As a result of our efforts, the patrol vessels, Ruth First, Victoria Mxenge and Sarah Baartman, have enjoyed successes in the various coastal patrols undertaken, and the research vessel, Ellen Khuzwayo, has conducted many valuable fisheries research surveys.”
“The research vessel, Africana, has also undergone major repair and refurbishment, and is due to return to operational duty early January 2015. The Lilian Ngoyi is about to be fully commissioned.
“Our focus during the past 18 months has been on providing the DAFF with optimal long-term support and reducing vessel downtime as much as possible, as well as passing on any cost reductions as a result of vessel efficiencies, to the DAFF.
“We also successfully crewed the vessels for their required operations, implemented a Lloyds’ approved Safety Management System, conducted vessel support in conjunction with Damen Shipyards, and managed all aspects of the vessels while they were in operation.
“We would like to thank the DAFF, the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the South African Navy (for harbour facilities and services) and the local marine industry for its support, which made it possible for us to provide a professional service to the DAFF. We look forward to assisting the DAFF once again when the new tender is issued.”
Noble also paid tribute to the Nautic SA team and marine crew for their positive and ‘can-do’ approach to the project, as well as the considerable commitment and performance of all those involved in the reactivation of the DAFF fleet.
Nautic South Africa is a level 3 B-BBEE black majority-owned company and an additional 100 new jobs were recently created by Nautic Africa to accommodate growing vessel orders.