“The history of the Subtech Group is nothing short of the modern-day business fairy-tale. From its humble beginnings as a 3-man operation started by a group of 3 like-minded commercial diving professionals, with one boat and an unwavering belief in their service offering, it has evolved over the last 21 years to a Group of Companies which provide specialist maritime services globally. Employing over 300 employees across a number of countries, the Subtech Group is a major role player in a number of sub-sectors of the maritime industry, including commercial diving, salvage and emergency response, marine services, hydrographic survey and major port development projects, with IMCA and ISO 9001: 2015 accreditation.”
In 1995 Subtech was borne as a small commercial diving company working in the Port of Durban, South Africa with two shareholders. After some initial forays into Mozambique to complete commercial diving projects, a permanent presence was established in Maputo in 1999.
In 2001, Subtech made inroads into the marine construction sector, growing the business significantly whilst continuing to grow its commercial diving activities.
In 2005, the decision was taken to start commercial diving operations in the Middle East and the Company set up an office in Qatar. That same year Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the suspension of the “Jones Act” so as to allow international contractors to assist in clean-up operations in the aftermath of the Katrina. Subtech secured a one-year diver supply contract with Superior Offshore International which quickly realised the deployment of over 300 commercial divers and other offshore specialists through the Subtech Qatar Office. As a direct result of Subtech’s performance in the Gulf of Mexico, Superior Offshore International acquired the business of Subtech – including the Middle East Operations.
2007 saw the appointment of Subtech as a major sub-contractor to Group 5, a major South African Construction Company, and the Dredging International Consortium for the Durban Harbour Entrance Widening project – a project that ran until 2010 and which proved to be a major milestone in the growth of the organizational at all levels, including revenue, staff and reputation.
In 2008 Superior International Offshore was forced into liquidation and, as a result, the original four shareholders of Subtech re-acquired both the South African and Middle East operations.
In 2010, a decision is taken to sell the Middle East business to Mermaid, a Singaporean listed company. In the same year, Subtech established a subsidiary company in Namibia. Based in Walvis Bay, Namibia Subtech Diving and Marine services the West Coast of Africa. By this time, Subtech had firmly established itself as a major specialist maritime contractor in Sub-Saharan Africa offering a range of services to its clients.
In 2012, in support of the East African Oil and Gas developments, Subtech extends its footprint into Northern Mozambique through the establishment of Subtech Norte, a Mozambican registered subsidiary based in Pemba.
2014 saw the acquisition of the Subtech Group by James Fisher and Sons, PLC. The James Fisher Group, listed on the London Stock Exchange, saw the acquisition of the Subtech Group as strategic in that it broadened their presence in the growing markets around Africa. They also recognised that Subtech’s marine and subsea services were very complementary to their own. For Subtech, the acquisition meant that the Group could enhance its market offering to clients and act as a shop front for the James Fisher Group of Companies services into the African region.
In January 2015, Ardent the newly created company between Svitzer and Crowley launched a Joint Venture with Subtech. The Joint Venture built on an already successful track record of collaboration between Ardent and Subtech through projects such as the wreck removal of the MV SMART in Richard’s Bay and the emergency response salvage of the Vestas Wind off the coast of Mauritius. The Joint Venture, Ardent Subtech, is based out of Subtech’s existing Cape Town facility with supporting offices in Namibia, Mozambique and Mauritius. The key objectives of the Joint Venture are to increase responsiveness and operational capability throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and to provide clients with support and assurance in areas that are challenging to operate in.