Monday, June 17, 2013

New Supply Vessel for Bulk Freight and Shipping Crew Supply Outfit after a Decade of Development

Black Empowerment Project Continues to Grow
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – Ten years ago, when the political and economic world in the country was learning to cope with a new situation two experienced local shipping executives, Robert Knutzen (ex CEO of the Golden Ocean Group), Jan Rabie (ex Director of Safmarine) joined forces with a third partner, Mark Watson, to create Marine Crew Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd (MCS) and Marine Bulk Carriers (Pty) Ltd (MBC) with the intention of empowering local black labour by providing employment aboard vessels whilst also helping South Africa dip its toe into the waters of ocean freight and cargo carriage.

MBC has developed with a minority shareholding from Japanese LPG and tanker group Sanko Steamship Co. Ltd and now, following a call from the government to invest and rebuild the South African merchant marine sector, MBC has placed a 300 million Rand order for a new anchor handling tug and supply vessel purpose-built for South African conditions. The move has provided a ‘deeply satisfying moment’ for the two directors as Lester Peteni, MBC Chairman, explains:

“This vessel acquisition marks the start of the MBC’s dream to expand our business activities from vessel management into vessel ownership and supports the call made by South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Ben Martins, and the CEO of the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, for South African companies to start investing in vessels for the local market.

“The demand for anchor handling tugs around Southern Africa - in particular South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique - is increasing. For example, PetroSA currently operates six foreign-owned tugs off Mossel Bay and the growth in the market is something MBC hopes to exploit through local ownership and crewing.”

Peteni says MBC plans to register and flag the sophisticated 12,000 horsepower anchor handling tug and supply vessel in South Africa. The 78 metre vessel, currently being built by Guangxin Shipbuilding of Guangdon in China, has been designed to meet the requirements of the local off-shore industry in terms of power, deck space and winch capacity. MBC’s sister company, MCS, will man the vessel with local Officers and Ratings and also provide training berths for Cadets and Ratings as further proof of MCS’s commitment to investing in the local maritime sector. Jan Rabie announced his pleasure at the new development saying:

“MBC has taken the South African Government, which has expressed its commitment to rebuilding the local merchant marine, at its word and it’s now a matter of seeing whether visions can become a reality and whether South African customers are willing to support local owners and operators. Key to the success of this project is whether the necessary South African maritime legislation, flagging and support from the South African customer base will be realised by the time the vessel is delivered in 2015.”

Photo: From left to right: Jan Rabie (Executive Director), Lester Peteni (Chairman), Daniel Ngubane (General Manager Off-Shore) with a model of the R300 million anchor handling tug and supply vessel being purpose-built for SA conditions.