The world’s largest and most advanced diamond exploration ship and sampling vessel is ready to kick off operations searching for diamonds offshore Namibia.
The vessel, named MV SS Nujoma, was inaugurated Thursday by owner Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Namibian government and De Beers Group, during a ceremony in Walvis Bay, Namibia.
Established in 2002, Debmarine Namibia is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore. The company produced around 1.2 million carats in 2016. Mining of Namibia’s offshore diamonds takes place at around 120 to 140 meters below sea level.
The SS Nujoma is the sixth vessel in the company’s fleet, and the first to be dedicated to exploration and sampling. It incorporates technology that allows it to take larger samples faster and with more information per sample compared to other vessels. Debmarine Namibia says SS Nujoma is capable of sampling at more than double the speed of its predecessor.
The 12,000 tonne, diesel-electric powered SS Nujoma has created 140 direct new jobs. At 113 meter long, it can accommodate a crew of 80 and has a helicopter deck suitable for Sikorsky S61s. It was constructed in Ulsteinvik, Norway by Kleven Verft and fitted with its subsea sampling system, designed by De Beers Group, in Cape Town, South Africa. The inauguration follows five months of successful sea trials.
The vessel is reported to have cost $157 million to construct.
Diamond mining is the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy. The partnership between De Beers Group and the Namibian Government delivers more than N$10 billion in revenue annually.