New vessel acquisition a boost for South African vessel ownership

Marine Bulk Carriers  (MBC), the Cape Town-based black empowerment shipping company, and its partners have responded to the South African government’s call to invest and rebuild the South African merchant marine by placing a R300 million order for a new anchor handling tug and supply vessel purpose-built for South African conditions.

Image 1

Jan Rabie (executive director), Lester Peteni (chairman), Daniel Ngubane (general manager off-shore).

According to Lester Peteni, MBC Chairman:

“This vessel acquisition marks  the start of the MBC’s dream to expand our business activities from vessel management into vessel ownership and supports the call made by South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Ben Martins, and the CEO of the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, for South African companies to start investing in vessels for the local market. “

Peteni says MBC plans to register and flag the sophisticated 12 000 horsepower anchor handling tug and supply vessel in South Africa.  The 78m vessel - which is being built by Guangxin Shipbuilding of Guangdon in China - has been designed to meet the requirements of the local off-shore industry in terms of power, deck space and winch capacity.

Image 2 of the vessel.

MBC co-operated closely with overseas advisors with regard to the technical specifications and negotiations with the shipyard.

According to Peteni, “The demand for anchor handling tugs around Southern Africa - in particular South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique - is increasing.

“For example, PetroSA currently operates six foreign-owned tugs off Mossel Bay and the growth in the market is something MBC hopes to exploit through local ownership and crewing.”      

MBC’s sister company, Marine Crew Services (MCS), will man the vessel with local Officers and Ratings and also provide training berths for Cadets and Ratings as further proof of MCS’s commitment to investing in the local maritime sector.

For MBC directors Robert Knutzen and Jan Rabie, both of whom have been in shipping for over 30 years, MBC’s move into vessel owning is a special and “highly satisfying moment” and represents a “huge leap of faith and investment in the South African maritime industry.” Both directors have played a key role in building MBC/MCS from a small private company to its current status as vessel owner.

Says Rabie:  “MBC has taken the South African Government, which has expressed its commitment to rebuilding the local merchant marine, at its word and it’s now a matter of seeing whether visions can become a reality and whether South African customers are willing to support local owners and operators.

“Key to the success of this project is whether the necessary South African maritime legislation, flagging and support from the South African customer base will be realised by the time the vessel is delivered in 2015.”


  • MBC and MCS were established 10 years ago by Robert Knutzen, Jan Rabie, Lester Peteni and Deanna Collins to boost South Africa’s involvement in the maritime sector.  
  • MCS, under the leadership of Deanna Collins, is South Africa’s largest privately-owned maritime company specialising in ships crewing, seafarer training and the training and development of personnel for the maritime support services ashore.      The company trains and places a large number of new entrant African female and male seafarers with international shipowners.
  • MCS, which has job creation as its key priority, has the largest number of black South African females serving in the offshore oil and gas industry on deep sea anchor handling supply tugs.   MCS has also increased the number of new entrant trainee seafarers through partnerships with SAMSA and the National Ports Authority (TNPA) and expects the number of cadets and ratings under its programmes to increase to over 500 over the next years.         
  • The company has, since its inception in 2003, realised its commitment to assisting seafarers from the African continent by training large numbers of ratings, cadets and artisans for various companies in Angola, Nigeria, Namibia and Ghana.