Maritime solutions company Nautic South Africa has been contracted by the South African navy to convert six vessels owned by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) into patrolling vessels that comply with flag, class and SAMSA requirements.

The vessels will be used to patrol South African waters to tackle piracy, drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, and oil pollution.

Nautic South Africa will be involved in the bunkering, crewing and supply of logistics for the vessels.

The vessels will serve the initiative taken by South African Government for the Benguela current large marine ecosystem and will operate within South African exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

With capabilities of investigating depths of up to 1,000m, the vessels have already helped in the arrests of ten craft involved in criminal or fraudulent activities.

Nautic South Africa vessel operation management Eddie Noble said that, now the DAFF vessels are in operation, they can provide optimal long-term support, aimed at reducing down-time.

“We do this by implementing a planned maintenance system and carefully rotating the vessels. We also ensure that vessel operation functions are optimised. In doing all of this we’re able to pass on cost reductions to the DAFF,” Noble said.

The South African navy has currently deployed two inshore vessels (IPV) that are patrolling inshore along the east and west coasts of South Africa.

The IPVs continuously patrol the South African waters for one and a half weeks, when they return to port for refuelling and victuals, and then continue patrol work.

The two IPVs will soon be joined by the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Sarah Baartman.

In addition to patrolling services, the Ellen Kuzwayo vessel also offer other services such as environmental research including research on rock lobster, linefish, sharks, pelagic long-lining and marine mammals.

Image: Ruth First is one of the six DAFF patrol vessels. Photo: courtesy of Nautic South Africa.