Ovenstone Agencies Introduces the MFV Lance


Article and Photos from Andrew James, Ovenstone Agencies



MFV Lance pictured at Hirtshals shipyard, Denmark after refit



Ovenstone Agencies (Pty) Ltd has operated the Tristan da Cunha lobster Concession since 1999. Ovenstone’s role is twofold: to catch and market the quota securing this valuable income stream for the Tristan community, and to operate the lifeline shipping logistics route between Cape Town, South Africa and Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the settlement of the island of Tristan da Cunha, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, in the South Atlantic Ocean.


Tristan is home to 243 British Citizens living in the world’s most isolated settlement 2,810 km or 1,750 miles from Cape Town in the South Atlantic Ocean. The voyage takes about 7 days. There is no option to fly as the island has no airport or airstrip. All supplies, fresh and frozen food, fuel, vaccines, and vehicles must be moved by ship. Marine legislation dictates that no more than 12 passengers may be carried at one time. This includes travelling Tristanians, including medivacs and their carers, civil servants, ministers of religion, environmentalists, specialist contractors and tourists. Ovenstone will operate the MFV Lance in the Tristan service from January 2022.



The Lance was launched in 1978 as a combined fishing and sealing vessel for arctic waters. She was rebuilt 1980-81 as a research vessel, including installation of a helideck, and acquired by the Norwegian Hydrographic Service. She was rebuilt again in 1992 to meet requirements for research expeditions in the Antarctic and the Arctic. The Norwegian Hydrographic Service operated Lance until 1994, using her both as a survey vessel and as a research vessel for the Norwegian Polar Institute and other institutions. In 1994 she was handed over to the Norwegian Polar Institute who operated the vessel until 2017. In the period 1995 – 2000 Lance also served as a coastguard vessel in the Barents Sea for parts of the year. Until acquired by the current owner, she was chartered as a research vessel.


The Norwegian research vessel Lance was acquired by her new owners in July 2021 and has undergone an extensive refit at the Hirtshals Yard in Denmark to Ovenstone’s specification for the Tristan service. This has principally involved increasing the capacity of the main cargo hold and the size of the hatch, installation of a refrigerated cargo hold and the installation of a 5T crane. She is now registered in Belize as a fishing vessel and has three cranes forward of the superstructure: 5T starboard side, 2T midships and 1T port side.


The investment in the conversion of the vessel including holds, hatches, cranes and passenger accommodation to adapt the vessel for the Tristan service amounted to over $3 million. She is currently scheduled to make her maiden voyage from Cape Town to Tristan in late January 2022.

Holds and Hatches


The vessel has two cargo holds. The No.1 hold (forward) is 220 cubic metres and has been converted to a freezer hold. The No.2 hold (main cargo hold) has been increased from 395 to 707 cubic metres. Access to the main cargo hold has been increased as shown in the pictures on this page from 4.2m x 3m to 7.2m x 4.8m specifically to accommodate Tristan’s out of gauge cargo such as vehicles and roofing materials. The vessel also has additional aft deck space where between one and three 6m containers can be placed. This necessitated removal of the original helideck.


The new hatch cover is made up of three aluminium pontoons due to the massive size of the hatch and access trunking which has been cut through the main deck. This space previously comprised several cabins and the laundry. This work proved to be the major cost due to the original ice class construction.

The three aluminium pontoons which make up the hatch cover can be lifted by either the original 2T Triplex crane which has been relocated forward of the No.1 hold hatch at the forecastle deck or the newly acquired 5T Triplex crane.



Passenger Accommodation

Vessel accommodation has been modified and upgraded with new passenger cabin and ablution facilities, a passenger day room and a passenger mess. All passenger accommodation, split over two decks, is separate from the crew’s accommodation and facilities.