TWO Port Alfred brothers who borrowed R500000 to go overseas and learn how to operate specialised underwater exploration vehicles have returned home and started their own training company after finding out the 10 hours they got was not enough to get plum jobs overseas.
Now boasting almost 100 hours between them, Leon and Anton Kieser’s decision to team up with their oil rig helicopter pilot father, Kees, and spend another R2-million buying their own high-tech remote control underwater vehicle equipment is paying off as clients start to queue up to be taught how to drive one themselves.
Although newly launched, the Port Alfred-based South African Remote Operated Vehicles (Sarov) company has received several enquiries from people keen to fork out R250000 for an intensive three- month, 100-hour training course to try and meet a global demand – especially in the oil industry.
“We spotted a gap in the market,” Kees Kieser explained yesterday. He said the main problem with getting just 10 hours’ water time was that it was not adequate to learn how to use a remote operated vehicle (ROV) properly.
“Nobody is going to let you operate an ROV worth millions of rands with so little experience.”
Instead of sitting around complaining, the two brothers and their enterprising father came up with R1.4-million to buy the specialised observation class ROV and a further R500000 for a fully rigged truck that boasts TV screens and other high tech gadgets to get further experience themselves and train others. They also offer specialised underwater services throughout Africa.
According to Kieser senior, Anton and Leon recently travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with the ROV at short notice to try and get images in a submerged mineshaft after a vital lift cable snapped.
An underwater machine that boasts multiple camera angles as well as an arm to grab things, the Sarov machine can operate in water up to 300m deep.
Plans are afoot to collaborate with marine researchers to allow them use of the specialised equipment in return for paying students clocking up hours controlling the ROV.
“It can also do dam wall inspections, ship hull inspections, help recover bodies or try and find sunken treasure and ships.”
Although R250000 for 100 hours training may sound steep, the £250 (about R3500) you can earn a day operating a ROV on an oil rig make it more than worthwhile.
Kieser senior – who flies helicopters on oil rigs around the world – said the work consisted of one month on the rig with food, lodging and a return plane ticket to anywhere in the world thrown in and then and a month off.
“There are not a lot of things to spend your money on when you are on the rigs.” — firstname.lastname@example.org