By Michelle Graff
Diamond exploration and sampling vessel the mv SS Nujoma weighs 12,000 tons, is 113 meters (371 feet) long, can accommodate a crew of 80 and has a helicopter landing deck. (Photo credit: Matt Crabb)
Walvis Bay, Namibia--De Beers recently launched what it says is the world’s most advanced diamond exploration vessel, a $157 million ship that will search for diamonds off the coast of Namibia.

Christened the mv SS Nujoma after Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, Namibia’s first president, the vessel was launched at a ceremony held June 15 in Walvis Bay, Namibia. Namibia is located in southern Africa, directly to the west of Botswana. Its entire western border is the Atlantic Ocean.

The mv SS Nujoma is the first in a fleet of six ships that Debmarine Namibia will use for exploration and sampling off the Namibian coast.

Designed by the De Beers Group in Cape Town, South Africa, and built in Ulsteinvik, Norway, the ship incorporates a range of techniques that allow it to sample faster, take bigger samples and collect more information per sample.

20170710 ship crewThe captains of the Debmarine Namibia vessels; pictured at front is Capt. T. Kosmas, master of the mv SS Nujoma.
It also is the world’s largest diamond sampling vessel at 12,000 tons and 113 meters (371 feet) long, which is longer than Big Ben (96 meters) is tall. It has created 140 new jobs, the majority of which have been filled by Namibians.

Debmarine Namibia, a partnership between De Beers and the Namibian government, is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore, De Beers said. It produced about 1.2 million carats last year.

Mining of Namibia’s diamonds takes place at 120 to 140 meters (393 to 459 feet) below sea level, and ships like the mv SS Nujoma will allow Debmarine Namibia to increase resource development for its fleet of vessels that do the actual mining.

Commenting on the ship’s launch, De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said: “Offshore diamond mining is becoming increasingly important in meeting global demand for diamonds, as many of the major onshore deposits have now been discovered. The mv SS Nujoma will allow even more of Namibia’s high-quality offshore diamonds to be discovered and mined, ensuring a strong future for Namibia’s diamond industry, as well as the global diamond market.”

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