Cleeve Robertson says the upgraded fleet will bolster economic activity

South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute says the delivery of the first locally-assembled new-generation rescue craft is a triumph for local boatbuilding.

The R20-million Donna Nicholas was recently delivered to its new home in Simon’s Town amidst much fanfare from local boating stakeholders. The first replacement vessel was built in France, but Donna Nicholas was assembled at the Two Oceans yard and delivered to the Simon’s Town NSRI base in mid-April.

The NSRI is upgrading its fleet over the next ten years, with several 14m vessels due to be built by Two Oceans Marine. “Not only will they improve safety, but the fact that we are investing and assembling locally also presents an opportunity for the maritime boatbuilding industry,” said NSRI chief executive Dr Cleeve Robertson in a statement issued last month. “Our fleet replacement program will see the entire NSRI all-weather search and rescue fleet replaced with the new vessels over about 10 years, allowing for increased operational capability,” Robertson said.

“Our new  vessels will be a safety net for a range of industries such as tourism, fishing and water-based recreational industries,” he added.

Upon arrival in Simon’s Town the Donna Nicholas was greeted by a fleet of recreational craft and navy frigate. She will operate out of NSRI’s Station 10.

The new self-righting and purpose-built vessel is 14.8 m long and 4.8 m wide, has a rescue mission range of 50 nautical miles and an expected lifespan of at least 40 years.

The station is very proud to be receiving this high tech Search and Rescue (SAR) vessel and we look forward to being able to reach those in peril speedily and in all weather conditions. The vessel has been purposely designed in France by Pantocarene Naval Architects and built for the worst of the conditions the Cape has to offer”, said Station 10, Station Commander, Darren Zimmerman.

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