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SS Nujoma sails out for sea trials

Debmarine Namibia’s new diamond exploration and sampling vessel, the mv SS Nujoma, has left the Port of Cape Town to start two weeks of sea trials.

The mv SS Nujoma pictured in Norway earlier this year after being entered into water for the first time.

The N$2.3 billion (US$139,000) ship, the most advanced marine diamond sampling and exploration vessel in the world, arrived in Cape Town from the Kleven Verft AS shipyard in Ulsteinvik in Norway in August and has been fitted out with the sampling system.

The sea trials will test vessel performance with the new sampling system and it will then return to the Port of Cape Town for final completion works. Commissioning is scheduled to start in Namibian waters in December 2016. An inauguration event is planned for the first part of 2017.

The mv SS Nujoma has created 140 new direct jobs for Namibians who will operate the vessel. It will help extend sustainable diamond production levels long into the future.

Debmarine Namibia CEO Otto Shikongo said: “The mv SS Nujoma makes Debmarine Namibia operations independent as it is the first sampling vessel owned by the company. Debmarine Namibia has been chartering sampling services from De Beers Marine South Africa and a Namibian service provider.”

The sampling system was built in large modules with a combined mass of 2,200 tonnes, in parallel with the vessel construction in Norway. These modules were lifted on to the vessel using the second-biggest super-lift crane in southern Africa, with the heaviest module weighing more than 220 tonnes. The project is well ahead of schedule.

Michael Curtis, Project Head for De Beers Marine, added: “This unique and technically challenging global project has been successful thus far in exceeding its objectives. The project team understand how important the project is to our client Debmarine Namibia and have been committed from the approval of the project in April 2015 to fast track the delivery.”

The mv SS Nujoma is the sixth vessel of the Debmarine Namibia fleet. The company currently has five diamond mining vessels, which operate in Namibian waters in depths of up to 140 metres – the mv Mafuta, mv Grand Banks, mv Debmar Pacific, mv Debmar Atlantic and mv !Gariep.

The mv SS Nujoma, named after the Founding President and Father of the Namibian nation, Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, is the first of its kind and incorporates a range of innovative technologies. The vessel, which has a helicopter deck suitable for Sikorsky S61s, is diesel electric powered and can accommodate up to 80 crew.

Debmarine Namibia is the largest miner of diamonds in Namibia, contributing about 70 per cent of total Namibian diamond production.

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