The tempting sparkle of ocean diamond ships

The changing dynamics of society, coupled with new technologies, both in terms of digital solutions and industrial capabilities, are opening up a new maritime world. Shipping is not lone on the seas, and the companies that have the expertise and skills to support the shipping and maritime sectors may soon be able to find new growing markets in the opening ocean space. This is the third of three initial examinations of new opportunities emerging in ocean economics.


THIS week De Beers, the South African Diamond company announced it has ordered a new $142m diamond hunting vessel. The vessel has been ordered for Debmarine Namibia, a joint venture the company has with the Namibian government and the intention is that it will be in service by 2021. Debmarine already has six other diamond ships in service, including the recently built SS Nujoma and the current largest of the company’s fleet Mafuta. All are working in the relatively shallow waters of Namibia where the company thinks there could be up to 30m karat of diamond.

In a statement Bruce Cleaver, CEO De Beers Group, said:

“There is a great amount of potential in Namibia’s marine diamond deposits and this new vessel will support our strategy to continue to grow our offshore operations. Earlier this year we launched the mv SS Nujoma, the world’s largest diamond sampling and exploration vessel, and this has improved our ability to target our mining activities. The acquisition of a new, custom-built mining vessel will help capitalise on the work of the mv SS Nujoma, thereby supporting the long-term future of Namibia’s diamond sector.”

The MV SS Nujoma is named after Namibia’s founding president, Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma.

This seventh vessel is expected to create 130 new jobs alongside Debmarine Namibia’s current workforce of 900 employees. De Beers has signed a Memorandum of Understanding  regarding the construction, with Norwegian shipbuilder Kleven Verft, the company responsible for building the mv SS Nujoma which was handed over by the yard to De Beers this summer.

SS Nujoma is a 113m long  diesel-electric powered vessel that can house a crew of 80. The intention is to have the vessel in operation for three year stretches before it heads for maintenance. It is a diamond sampling vessel rather than a mining vessel.

The De Beers vessels are Namibia-flagged and with Namibian-crews.

Funding of the vessel’s construction came from two local banks, Standard Bank Namibia and RMB Namibia, a division of the First National Bank of Namibia – both covered a total of 75 per cent of the project cost. The other vessels in the Debmarine Namibia fleet are Debmar Atlantic, Debmar Pacific, !Gariep, Grand Banks and Mafuta, all mining vessels. They mine in the offshore mining licence area off the southern coast of Namibia at water depths of up to 150 metres. There are also two chartered vessels.

More on the launch and purpose of SS Nujoma in the video below.

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