EL Shipyard oversees repairs on SA Agulhas

THE South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (Samsa) dedicated training vessel, the SA Agulhas, is back in the port of East London ‘s Princess Elizabeth dry-dock.

The 40-year old vessel, which recently returned from a three-month trip to Antarctica, is back in East London for her lay-up maintenance plan after her previous visit in 2013, and was welcomed by a refurbished dry-dock with improved facilities.

The four to six-week contract was awarded to local ship repair company, East London Shipyard. Work includes repairs and maintenance on the bow and stern thrusters, tail shaft, steering gear, compressors, cranes, deck machinery and hull.

“More than 80 direct jobs have been created during the project, including employment for marine engineers, electricians, riggers, welders, fitters, painters and supervisory staff,” Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TPNA) Ship Repair Manager for the Port of East London, Leigh Carls said.

The dry-dock, which is currently undergoing the advanced stage of its refurbishment project, now boasts new switchgear and crane rails.

“Work commenced in 2015 with a phased approach being followed to enhance all critical components and allow for the dock to be functional throughout the upgrading process. R21-million has been invested to date and 70% of the work has been completed thus far,” Carls said.

As part of TNPA’s contribution nationally towards government’s Operation Phakisa initiative, the dry-dock refurbishment is in support of ship repair and marine manufacturing.

Operation Phakisa aims to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans by accelerating investments into ship repair facilities and marine engineering capability.

The SA Agulhas is the fifth commercial vessel to make use of the dry-dock over the past six months. She was one of the star attractions at last year’s East London Port Festival, as well as the People’s Port Festival in Port Elizabeth earlier this year.

Twenty cadets ,enrolled in the national cadet programme managed by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), obtained experience on the vessel’s recent Antarctic voyage, counting towards their sea time to obtain their STCW certificates of competency.

East London Port Manager, Sharon Sijako, said attracting more ship repair business to the port was an essential aspect of the new aggressive strategy to expand the port for the benefit of the region.

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