DISCOVER Magazine #7

Specialised Vessel Services (SVS)

Published in category: Defence & Security

When Specialised Vessel Services (SVS) was looking for a fit for purpose, robust vessel able to operate in challenging environments, the company turned to Damen Shipyards. SVS was initially established in March 2010 to provide tonnage in support of oil and gas exploration operations in East Africa at a time when piracy was at its peak.

As the threat of piracy reduced, largely due to the anti-piracy efforts of the East African Nations, SVS is focusing on a portfolio based on four key activities – Safety, Standby, Supply and Security. With a fleet of 16 vessels, SVS delivers a range of services including Fast Support Intervention, Crew Supply, Supply and Support, Guard & Chase Vessel duties, along with Port Control and other multi-purpose tasks.

Part of the Comarco Group of companies, SVS has a multi-purpose fleet, which has a range of equipment from davit launched Fast Rescue Craft, workboats & RHIBs, oil spill response, fire fighting and towing winches to offer full flexibility to meet client demands. SVS Managing Director, Tudor Ellis explains: “When we were founded there was limited tonnage available to the operators that had started to work in the region.


“We wanted to ensure we could provide ‘best in class’ services for the operators moving into the region. We needed to have vessels that had longevity, reliability and performance. We knew Damen had the pedigree from naval vessels through to tugs.”

The Axe Bow has the range, capability, performance and speed to deliver fast support, intervention and crew supply capabilities

Deployed all year round

Damen’s Axe Bow vessels ticked all the boxes. “The Axe Bow has the range, capability, performance and speed to deliver fast support, intervention and crew supply capabilities.”

Crucially, the Damen vessels can be deployed all year round, in all weathers. “All of our vessels operate in a difficult environment. Often we are in the Mozambique Channel, which is renowned for it wave height, high winds and strong currents.

“The Damen 33 m Axe Bow has the endurance to stay at sea for up to a month. They are robust and designed to meet a high wind severity index. Consequently, we can operate in this weather with the confidence that the vessel is safe.”

SVS has grown its fleet together with Damen. In the first instance the company ordered two 33 m Axe Bow vessels and now the fleet has increased to five Damen 33 m and three 55 m vessels.

As well as SVS looking for modern, durable vessels, it was also looking for a means to finance them. “Damen is dynamic and entrepreneurial, recognising market demand and it helped us by providing finance as well. This was the total package. Damen really has given us complete support to establish the most modern fleet in East Africa.”

Modern fleet

There are also more opportunities, Mr Ellis says. “There is increasing interest from customers in West Africa as they look to find companies that can operate to the required OGP standard with vessels that are fit for purpose.”

SVS already has two vessels supporting drilling explorations off Benin. The vessels mobilised from Mombasa with the SVS Avery making a maintenance call at Damen Shipyards Cape Town to check that all on board systems were fully functional and working to Class specification.

Safety, Standby, Supply and Security

Mr Ellis says SVS will continue working with Damen because it is delivering what the market wants. SVS is set to take delivery of another 55m vessel in August 2014 and it took recent delivery of the SVS Cavendish. “We are working very closely with Damen, it is a true partnership, Damen assists and solves problems and are always happy to support us.”

Damen Cape Town – convenient for repairs & maintenance Support is vitally important for the company. SVS needed to fit a davit and FRC system to SVS Teach for charter work in West Africa. “We needed excellence in workmanship, a facility to ensure that work completed would keep the vessel in Class and warranty, along with a location that was convenient. The Damen facility in Cape Town provided this. All work was completed on schedule. Even when issues were discovered with the davit hardware, Damen was at the forefront of arranging specialist electronics engineers and Class surveyors out of hours to ensure the vessel was able to depart on schedule.”

Mr Ellis is confident that the business will see more growth. “We are doing our job in a difficult environment where there are high risks. We want to make sure we can be relied upon on and to this end we will be expanding our fleet with other types of vessels so we can offer the breadth of service needed.” SVS has metamorphosised and it is geared up for the opportunities to come. “Without Damen it wouldn’t have happened,” stresses Mr Ellis.

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