Nautic Africa partners with Unique Hydra to develop innovative diving vessel purpose-built for African conditions


South Africa-based Nautic Africa and Unique Hydra have recently been awarded a contract to develop, construct and deliver a davit deployed diving daughter craft for a floating production storage and offloading unit (FSPO) off the West African Coast. The contract sees Nautic Africa step towards its goal of providing purpose-built, tailor-made solutions to the West African offshore industry.

Unique Hydra is well-known for providing world-class commercial diving services and systems, and when it was approached to provide a diving solution, it turned to Nautic Africa to assist it in developing and constructing a vessel purpose-built for African conditions.

The vessel will be launched from an offshore support vessel (OSV) that serves the needs of the FPSO on a daily basis. It will be used to inspect the hull and carry out UWILD (underwater inspection in lieu of drydocking) services with its diving systems and cameras.

Technical innovation

Nautic Africa’s CEO, James Fisher, says the order has given Nautic Africa the chance to demonstrate the level of technical innovation that is at the heart of the company’s business strategy.

The vessel will feature single point hoisting and will have a twin diesel water jet propulsion system. At her maximum speed of 20 knots, the vessel will be able to cover a range of 90 nautical miles. The hull of the vessel will be constructed in durable aluminium, while the deckhouse will be made of composite sandwich construction. A foam collar fender will offer protection while alongside the FSPO.

A Unique Hydra Nitrox dive control system will enable, simultaneously, three diver operations. The vessel will be able to accommodate one coxswain and one diver supervisor in addition to two diver teams of three persons. Each diver team will consist of two main divers and one standby diver. The teams will take turns to perform over a six- to eight-hour time period.


This is the second collaboration with Unique Hydra in delivering such solutions for the African market – the first collaboration was for 14m DSV delivery to an Angolan client. With minimal changes to the application and overall design, the dive support vessel can be used for patrol, security, policing, sea rescues and for fisheries as well as within the oil and gas industry.

The versatility of the vessel is backed up by an in-depth understanding of the African offshore industry, Fisher explains: “We’ve been closely involved in the African marine market for the past six years, and during this time, have developed a thorough understanding of the African offshore industry. We understand the dynamics and challenges of the industry and have used this knowledge to support operations in the oil and gas sector and provide customised solutions that meet the needs of our ever-growing client base.”

South African skills

Fisher points out that this project serves to demonstrate that the skills necessary to service the African offshore industry can be found within Africa, and this, he says, bodes well for the future. “We are extremely proud to have been awarded this contract and see great potential for future collaboration with Unique Hydra and other specialist companies in delivering solutions for the African market.”