… As he celebrates being at the helm of N$2.3bn vessel
By Hilary Mare
AFTER working for Debmarine for over a decade, Thomas Kosmas has assumed the role of captain of the recently commissioned mv SS Nujoma diamond exploration vessel.
Speaking recently about his new role and his aspirations, Kosmas reminisced about his first encounter with the sea, and shared how his fascination with the art of ocean navigation gave birth to his blossoming career.
“As a young Namibian living in Windhoek, my passion always differed to that of my friends. I travelled for the first time to the coast in my last year of high school (Grade 12), and while my friends were content to splash about in the water and spend time on the beach, I became curious about a career at sea,” Kosmas said.
“As I researched my options, I became aware that there was an opportunity for me to pair my love of the ocean with a career, and I became fascinated with the art of navigation. However, not once did I think that this would mean I would step foot on a ship – especially one that is now so important to the economic future of my country.”
Kosmas has worked at Debmarine Namibia – an offshore diamond exploration and mining company – for 14 years, in a number of roles.
He says each role has given him the opportunity to keep his love for the sea alive.
Speaking about his captaincy of the mv SS Nujoma – Debmarine Namibia and the world’s most advanced diamond sampling and exploration vessel – Kosmas said, “As soon as we are away from Walvis Bay, halfway up the Namibian coast, I will be reminded of the huge privilege it is to be at the helm of this innovative and dynamic vessel – named after His Excellency, Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, the Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation.”
The mv SS Nujoma cost N$2.3 billion (US$157 million) to build and has a crew of around 80 highly-trained individuals. Its commissioning has actually led to the creation of 140 new jobs – the vast majority of which are held by fellow Namibians.
“I believe the mv SS Nujoma represents a major milestone for offshore diamond mining in Namibia. Some of the world’s most beautiful diamonds are found here, where they have become the single biggest contributor to the country’s economy,” Kosmas added.
The partnership between the government and De Beers Group generates more than N$10 billion in revenue each year.
“I have followed the vessel’s progress closely, ever since construction began two years ago in Norway, with the knowledge that one day it would be under my command. There were celebrations when it was launched in January 2016, and in July, as it undertook its maiden voyage to Cape Town in South Africa, where it was fitted with the subsea sampling system and a network of cutting-edge technology.
“The hi-tech sampling system means the diamonds we find are sampled faster than its predecessor. At 113 metres in length, it is longer than a football pitch, is 22 metres wide, weighs in at 12 000 tons and is powered by five diesel-electric engines. It also has a helicopter pad that will be used to take those of us working on board to and from shore, during three-year stints out at sea, in-between home visits,” Kosmas said.
“Our exploring takes place up to 150 metres below sea level, seeking the diamonds carried across Southern Africa by the Orange River over millions of years, which were then left to rest on the ocean floor.”
The mv SS Nujoma has also been designed and built to the latest international marine standards – Eco Notation – giving Debmarine the opportunity to implement a range of ‘greener’ technologies.
“What might be surprising for a coastal country is that Namibia is in a water-scarce region, so we know we have to keep freshwater supplies from shore to a minimum. As a result, the vessel has desalination systems fitted, to ensure it is self-sufficient in producing freshwater.
“The accommodation for the crew was a priority area for the vessel designers – as we live on board for 28 days at a time – and they factored in a high level of comfort, with low noise and vibration, and excellent ventilation. As master of the mv SS Nujoma, I cannot imagine doing anything else for a living. On the mast, we fly the Namibian flag. The mv SS Nujoma is, of course, a source of pride for Namibia, as well as for Debmarine Namibia – something that was clearly evident during the inauguration,” Kosmas said.
“Our Prime Minister, Dr Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and Dr Sam Nujoma himself were at the event, as well as the Honourable Obeth Kandjoze, our Minister of Mines and Energy, and many other dignitaries and fellow employees. To join them on that auspicious day filled me with an immense sense of pride – both as a Debmarine Namibia employee and as a Namibian citizen – and it was unlike anything I had felt before.
“If the development of the mv SS Nujoma and the role it will play is any indication, my country has an exciting future. And that is something the younger me would never have believed he would have the honour of being a part of,” Kosmas added.
SS Nujoma captain Thomas Kosmas(front) and his crew
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