Facilities management company Servest has expanded its footprint in Africa with the introduction of two new fast offshore supply vessels in Mozambique and the opening of a new branch in Walvis Bay, Namibia, last month, Servest Marine divisional MD Julian Hurrie tells Engineering News.
He adds that the company bought a seventh fast offshore supply vessel, the Ocean Swift, specifically for its new operation at the Port of Walvis Bay last month.
Hurrie explains that the company’s supply vessels can be used for several purposes – towing and salvaging vessels in distress, transferring gas and/or oil and fresh water, receiving and disposing of sludge.
The vessels are also suitable for hull cleaning and underwater surveys, contract services on offshore construction and pipelines, onshore launching of logistic supplies to offshore rigs and mining vessels, offshore rendezvous with vessels too large to enter ports to transfer personnel, stores and spares, as well as for any other urgent requirements.
Further, Hurrie points out that Servest launched three fast offshore supply vessels – the Ocean Phutuma for the Port of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Ocean Spray and Ocean Surge for the Port of Cape Town, in the Western Cape – in December last year.
“All these vessels are fully certified by the South African Maritime Safety Authority and are licensed to carry 19 passengers and four crew members each,” he says.
Hurrie highlights that, as these new vessels are smaller and lighter than previous vessels, they can travel at higher speeds.
“The vessels can reach top speeds of 48.1 km/h, compared with previous vessels, which could reach top speeds of 22.2 km/h. Higher speeds mean a shorter transit time, which, in turn, translates into reduced costs for clients and end-users, as we charge on an hourly, quay-to-quay basis. The shorter voyages at higher speeds equates to lower fuel consumption, ensuring further reductions in costs,” he explains.
Further, another advantage is that these 14.5 m catamaran vessels are made of fibreglass.
“A major technical innovation of the vessels is that using fibreglass instead of steel provides the company with substantial benefits from a weight and running-repair cost perspective. Repairing a damaged gunwale on a steel boat can be as much as R100 000, but the equivalent repairs on a fibreglass boat cost only about R10 000,” he states.
Hurrie says that Servest is always aiming to improve its service capability and, therefore, wants to ensure it reduces running costs so that clients can benefit directly.
“Our clients, in turn, can offer more competitive services, which has stimulated growth in vessel call volumes.”
Hurrie notes that the company currently has seven fast offshore supply vessels in operation, including the one it has just bought, and it aims to have more operating at ports. This will enable ports to benefit from “a cost-effective offshore launch supply service”.
“Shipping is a dynamic and varied market, with many subsectors and niche services. Africa is a booming market, which is developing from a low base, and the continent is still hampered by many challenges such as inadequate infrastructure.
“However, circumstances are rapidly evolving and we foresee accelerated growth in the African shipping sector over the next 10 to 20 years,” he concludes.