After arriving in Cape Town from her builders for outfitting in August 2016, the world’s largest and most advanced diamond exploration and sampling vessel undertook sea trials in November and recently entered service on the coast of Namibia (SW Africa). SS Nujoma, is owned by Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Namibian government and the De Beers Group.
Built by Kleven Verft AS shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway
Owned by Debmarine, Namibia
Displacement 12,000 tones
Propulsion: diesel electric
Helicopter deck suitable for Sikorsky S61s
Construction cost $139 million
SS Nujoma is the sixth vessel in the specialized Debmarine fleet, and the first to be dedicated to both exploration and sampling. It incorporates technology that allows it to take larger samples faster and with more information per sample compared to similar vessels and at more than double the speed of its predecessors. Established in 2002, Debmarine Namibia is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore and last year collected around 1.2 million carats, generally at depth of 120 to 140 meters. Diamond mining is the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy with the partnership between the De Beers Group and the Namibian Government delivering more than N$10 billion in revenue annually.
The history of De Beers is interwoven with that of Southern Africa. In 1870, a 17 year old English boy’s failing health persuaded his family to send him to South Africa in the hope that the hot climate would cure him. Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1906), initially worked on his brother’s cotton farm in the Province of Natal in the fields to pick cotton but when the farm failed they moved on to Kimberley in 1871 to pick diamonds. Within 20 years, Rhodes had gained almost complete domination of the world diamond market and His De Beers diamond company, formed in 1888 continues to do so to this day. Rhodes also entered the Cape Parliament in 1880, and served as the Cape Colony’s seventh Prime Minister from 1890-96. De Beers is credited with having created the pereption that diamonds are a scarce commodity thereby always commanding a high price.
SS Nujoma is named after the founding father and first President of Namibia Dr. Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, born in 1929, a Namibian revolutionary and anti-apartheid campaigner who went on to serve three terms as the first President of Namibia (formerly known as South West Africa) from 1990 on achieving independence from South Africa, until he stood down in 2005.
Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.