Marine industry weighs anchor

Marine industry weighs anchor

CAPE TOWN’S maritime business sector has finished the year on the crest of a wave with two major deals clinched in the last quarter. In November Marine Bulk Carriers (MBC) and Marine Crew

Services (MCS) announced that a second R300m order for an Anchor Handling Tug and Supply (AHTS) vessel had just been placed. This is the second R300m vessel order for the company in three months.

MBC Chairman Lester Peteni said demand for anchor handling tugs around Southern Africa - especially South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique - continued to grow and gave the company and its partners the confidence to order a second AHTS vessel only three months after ordering the first. The 78m, 12,000 horsepower AHTS vessels, which are being built by Guangxin Shipbuilding of Guangdon in China, will be South African-owned and crewed by South Africans.

MBC’s sister company, Marine Crew Services (MCS) will man the vessel with local Officers and Ratings and also provide training berths for Cadets and Ratings. The new AHTS vessels are due for delivery in late 2015. The vessels are custom-built to meet the requirements of the local off-shore industry in terms of power, deck space and winch capacity.

Also in November came the news that Paramount Group, Africa’s largest privately owned defence and aerospace firm, had acquired a majority stake in Nautic Africa, a specialist shipbuilder based in Cape Town. The deal comes amidst growing concerns around security of Africa’s coastlines, great lakes and rivers – most notably the protection of political and economic assets like oil pipelines, shipping lanes, tourist areas and national borders.

According to a press statement, the speed and flexibility of Nautic’s vessels make them ideal for operations to provide oil and gas security, anti-piracy protection and vital tools against illegal drug and people trafficking. Nautic Africa offers customized vessel solutions, specialising in high speed, ballistic protected aluminium patrol vessels ranging from nine to 90 metres. The Paramount deal should see Nautic Africa double their staff employment in the next two years. Paramount executive chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said it was vital that Africa has its own response to the growing threat to its people and assets from piracy and other maritime threats.

“African states should not have to look to the US, Europe and Asia for their naval requirements. The skills, capacity and spirit of innovation are all right here.” He added that the emergence of Africa as an increasingly important global economic power provided the shipbuilding industry in Africa with a huge opportunity to increase production, boost industrial growth and invest in new skills and jobs.

“Combining Paramount Group’s global market reach and strong track record in Africa with the engineering and design skills of Nautic Africa we will stimulate global demand for Africa’s naval solutions.”

One immediate spin-off from the deal is that Paramount and Nautic will develop a 42m Trimaran naval patrol vessel. The Trimaran is being developed in direct response to a need for a highly efficient, sea-kindly, multi-role working platform. James Fisher, CEO of Nautic Africa, said there had never been a greater need for naval security in the waters around Africa for many reasons.

“New oil and gas resources are being discovered every month and those resources need to be secured. Peace of mind is a very precious thing for governments and international corporations and we’re pleased to help.” 

By Jenni McCann


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