De Beers has just launched the world's largest diamond exploration ship off the coast of Namibia

Rebecca Smith
In sparkling shape
In sparkling shape (Source: De Beers)

De Beers has launched the world's largest diamond exploration vessel off the coast of Namibia, as it ramps up efforts to maintain high production levels until 2035.

Now the $157m (£123m) ship has had its official inauguration today, following five months of sea trials, the SS Nujoma is ready to start exploring for diamond deposits in Namibian waters.

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Namibia is home to some of the world's most valuable diamonds, and mining them takes place around 120-140m below sea level.

And De Beers hopes the 12,000 tonne, diesel-electric powered vessel will help them sample faster and take larger samples than other diamond sampling vessels. The beast of a ship, which was constructed in Norway and fitted out in South Africa, is 113m long - for comparison Big Ben is a mere 96m and features a helicopter deck.

Bruce Cleaver, chief executive of De Beers Group, 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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The company, owned by Anglo American, has been mining for diamonds offshore in the country since 2002. Last year it produced 1.2m carats.

The diamond hunting vessel in all its glory:

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

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