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Fact file: Valour-class small guided missile frigates

The Valour-class frigate is a multi-purpose and multi-capable vessel suitable for executing various naval missions. Frigates are the workhorses of any navy. They are capable of conducting sustained operations and are designed to negotiate sea conditions such as those found off the South African coast. The frigates are designed to carry one Denel Oryx-class or two SuperLynx helicopters, which significantly improves and extends the ship’s surveillance, operational and sea rescue capabilities.









Ships of the class:

Name

Builder

Laid Down

Launched

Commissioned

SAS Amatola (F145)1

Blohm+Voss,

Hamburg.

August 2, 2001

June 6, 2002.

February 16, 2006.

Simon’s Town

SAS Isandlwana (F146)

Howaldtswerke Deutsch Werft,

Kiel.

October 26, 2001.

December 5, 2002.

July 20, 2006.

Durban

SAS Spioenkop (F147)2

Blohm+Voss,

Hamburg.

February 28, 2002.

August 2, 2003.

February 16, 2007.

Simon’s Town

SAS Mendi

(F148)

Howaldtswerke Deutsch Werft,

Kiel.

June 28, 2002.

October 2003.

March 20, 2007.

Port Elizabeth

 

 

Designation:

Guided missile frigate, small (FSG3)

Number:

Four.

Main contactor:

 

European-South African Corvette Consortium, consisting of the German Frigate Consortium (now ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems), African Defence Systems (part of the French Thales defence group) and a number of South African companies.

Cost:

R6.917 billion4. R9.65 billion5.

Associated project names:

 

Sitron (frigate acquisition), Maulstic (acquisition of four shipborne AgustaWestland SuperLynx 300 antisubmarine helicopters.

Ship’s company:

92 plus eight aircrew plus 20 supernumeraries.

Major dimensions & weights:

  • Displacement:

  • Growth potential:

  • Length:

 

  • Beam:

  • Draught:

 

  • 3590mt, full load, 3500mt (design).

  • 200mt.

  • 121m (overall), 107.3m (waterline), 27m (flight deck).

  • 16.34m (overall).

  • 5.95m (navigation), 4.4m (design).

Hull:

 

Welded GL-D36 steel. The superstructure is fully integrated into the supporting ship structure, greatly contributing to optimal material and spatial utilisation.

Survivability:

 

Steel hull and superstructure shaped for low radar signature, hull subdivided into more than 10 watertight compartments, as well as double bulkheads and box girders running lengthwise – proven to prevent hull break-up.

 

The ship has four diesel generators in two separate compartments feeding two separate main switchboards. The vessel also has a distributed 24V DC power supply with emergency batteries for supplying control systems and emergency lighting as well as three dedicated high-capacity salvage pumps and eight salvage educators and a subdivisible fire main with eight fire pumps.

 

The class also feature an overpressure ventilation system and an armoured radiological, bacterial and chemical-(RBC) resistant citadel (including the bridge, the superstructure and most of the hull) as well as an external sprinkler system for “pre-wetting” ship prior to entering a contaminated zone or washing off RBC fallout or for cooling the hull to reduce its heat signature.

Main machinery:

 

CODAG-WARP (COmbined Diesel And Gas turbine-WAter jet and Refined Propellers).

  • One General Electric LM 2500 gas turbine delivering 20,000kw (26,820 hp);

  • Two MTU 16-valve 1163 TB93 diesels, each delivering 5920kW or a combined 11.84mW (16,102 hp);

in a variety of combinations via a Renk combined gearbox to two shafts, each fitted with a LIPS controllable pitch 5-blade 3.4m diameter propeller, or a centreline LIPS LJ210E waterjet (6-blade impeller, 2.8m diameter) with a max forward thrust of 1650kN and a crash-stop facility of 3300kN.

 

Two power plants, powered by two MTU 12-valve 183 TE52 diesel engines each, producing 2.2kW for the following power grids: 3-phase 60Hz 440V, 3-phase 60Hz 115V, 3-phase 400Hz 115V, 3-phase 60Hz 220V and 24V direct current.

 

Performance:

  • Output, max (diesels):

  • Output, max (waterjet):

  • Speed, cruise:

  • Speed, max:

  • Speed, waterjet only:

  • Range, nautical miles:

  • Endurance:

 

  • 1300rpm.

  • 3600rpm.

  • More than 20kts.

  • 29kts.

  • 29kts.

  • 7500 at 16kts.

  • Stores or 28 days.

Electronics:

  • Countermeasures:

    • Decoys:

 

    • ESM/ECM:

  • Combat management system:

  • Weapons control:

 

 

  • Radars:

    • Air/surface search:

    • Fire control:

    • IFF:

    • Navigation/helicopter control:

    • Sonar:

 

  • Other:

 

 

 

  • Two Saab Grintek Avitronics Super Barricade chaff launchers.

  • Grintek Avitronics EWS intercept and jammer.

  • Thales Tavitac.

  • Reutech Radar Systems (RRS) Optronic Radar Tracker, RRS Electro-Optical Tracker, M-Tek target designation sights.

 

  • Thales Navale MRR 3D, E/F-band.

  • Two sets, I/J-band.

  • Tellumat IFF.

  • Two sets, I-band.

  • Thales Marconi Kingklip hull-mounted, active search.

  • African Defence Systems SMS (System Management Subsystem), Saab Grintek Electronic Systems Shipborne Communication System, Thales Advanced Engineering Link Control & Video Switching System, ELAC underwater telephone, CCII Navigation Distribution System, LITEF Navigation Subsystem including two laser gyros, a ship’s speed doppler log, a ship’s speed EM log, an echo sounder, an electrical steering unit with autopilot, magnetic compass and compass monitoring, a satellite supported navigation system with 2DGPS, 16 consoles and one ship’s time piece), M-Tek Tilt Measurement System.

Armament:

  • Missiles:

    • SSM: .

    • SAM:

  • Guns:

 

 

 

 

  • Torpedoes:

  • Autonomous underwater vehicles:

  • Helicopters:

 

  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV):

 

 

  • 8 MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 2.

  • Umkhonto 16 cell VLS, can be increased to 32.

 

  • One OTOBreda 76mm/62 compact.

  • One Denel DPG 35mm (twin).

  • Two Oerlikon 20mm Mk1.

  • Two Reutech Rogue 12.7mm remote-control close-in weapon systems.

  • Four (2 twin) 324mm tubes (fitted for, but not with).

  • Planned.

  • One 10mt (Oryx or Rooivalk) or two 5mt (AgustaWestland SuperLynx 300).

  • Planned.

Furnishings:

 

The design benefits from the B+V Furnishing System 2000 and accommodation aboard the class is “more comfortable than usual”.

  • Captain: bedroom, living room, shower, washbasin, head and conference room.

  • Executive officer: bedroom, living room, shower, head.

  • Officers: One to two berths per cabin, head, shower and washbasin.

  • Chief Petty Officers & Petty Officers: Four berths per cabin. Shared ablutions.

  • Other rates: Twelve berths per cabin. Shared ablutions.

  • Officers’ wardroom, mess decks for other ranks, a recreation area and sports room.

Expected life-time:

30-40 years.

Comment:

 

 

Project Sitron is part of the Strategic Defence Package signed on December 3, 1999 with the ESACC. The contracts became effective on April 28, 2000.

 

The Amatola arrived in South African waters in November 2004, the Isandhlwana in February 2005, the Spioenkop in May and the Mendi in September 2005.

 

The Meko ships are collectively called the “Valour” class and each commemorates an incident of conspicuous bravery. "The symbolism, however, is not in the battle itself, and who the victors were, but the extreme valour shown by the forces involved -- both the victors and the defeated," a navy spokesman said in 2004.

 

The Amatola is named for the redoubt of the famed Xhosa chief Sandile, who fought British colonial expansion in the 19th Century, and SAS Isandhlwana, named after the hill dominating the site of one of the most famous battles of the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. Spioenkop is named for the January 1900 battle between Boer and British forces for the possession of the hill on the banks of the Thukela (Tugela) River in now KwaZulu-Natal. Spioenkop hill marks the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the 1899-1902 Anglo Boer War.

 

There is a progression in the names and the fourth vessel therefore takes its name from an event in World War One – but unlike the others it commemorates not a battle but valour during a maritime disaster. The 4230 gross registered ton (GRT) passenger ship SS Mendi was ferrying the mostly-Pondo 5th Battalion, SA Native Labour Corps (SANLC) from Britain to France when the steamer collided with the 11,000 GRT liner SS Darro during the early hours of February 21, 1917. Described as South Africa's worst naval disaster, 607 members of the SANLC, nine of their white countrymen and 33 crew members died when the troopship sank 11 miles off St Catherine's Light in the English Channel. Famously, the Rev. Isaac Wauchope Dyobha led the doomed men in song and dance as the ship went down. The SAS Mendi, with HMS Nottingham, laid a wreath at the coordinates of the disaster on August 23, 2004, on her way home from Germany.

 

The Valour-class frigate is a multi-purpose and multi-capable vessel suitable for executing various naval missions. The SA Navy had no operational ships in this class, having lost the last of three Type 12 (Rothesay-class) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates, the SAS President Pretorius (F145), to obsolescence in 1986.

 

Frigates are the workhorses of any navy. They are capable of conducting sustained operations and are designed to negotiate sea conditions such as those found off the South African coast. The frigates are designed to carry one Denel Oryx-class or two SuperLynx helicopters, which significantly improves and extends the ship’s surveillance, operational and sea rescue capabilities. The Lynx will be capable of day and night operations in conditions up to Sea State 66. An Oryx or similarly-sized Rooivalk will be capable of day or night operations up to Sea State 5.

 

Routine tasks will include:

  • Regular patrols for the protection of marine resources against poaching and pollution in the country's Economic Exclusion Zone;

  • Law enforcement at sea with respect to piracy and the smuggling of drugs, weapons and other contraband;

  • Peace and civil support missions could include:

    • Search and rescue (SAR) missions as far south as the Prince Edward island group;

    • Evacuating of civilians from coastal areas in times of emergency or crisis; and,

    • Providing gunfire and other support for land forces, as well as the transport of limited equipment and personnel in support of land action, especially during peacekeeping missions.

 

Typical wartime duties could include:

  • Patrols;

  • Defensive sea surveillance;

  • Combat SAR;

  • Special operations; and,

  • Minelaying and other sea-denial missions, once hostilities begin.

 

The frigates were built to a modern stealth design to avoid enemy radar and infra-red detection. In addition to these features, the Meko A-200SAN class is characterised by a unique propulsion system that which comprises a water-jet drive in addition to two propellers. Its CODAG-WARP system (COmbined Diesel And Gas turbine-WAter jet and Refined Propellers) consist of a steerable propeller and a water jet. The power is provided by a combination of diesel engines and gas turbines. The propulsion plant can be operated in four modes:

I – Economical mode: One diesel driving both shafts, max prop speed: 150rpm.

II – Manoeuvring mode: Both diesels driving both shafts, max prop speed: 200rpm.

III. CODAG-WARP: Both diesels and gas turbine engaged, max prop speed: 215rpm.

IV – Gas turbine only: Gas turbine powering water jet only.

The frigates will spend about 80% of their at-sea time in modes I and II.

 

The steering gear consists of a steering unit and twin semi-balanced underhung rudders. There is an emergency steering station in the superstructure in the event of damage to the bridge and they can also be operated by hand from the steering gear compartment. To improve the ship’s performance in a sea way, they are fitted with a B+V Simplex Compact stabiliser system.

 

The ship has seven independent Noske Kaeser air conditioning plants allowing the ship to operate at a preset temperature and moisture level in seas ranging between 40C and 300C and air between -40C and 320C. It also keeps air pressure in the citadel 5mbar higher than on the outside to prevent the ingress of RBC contamination.

 

The ship is also fitted with Sulzer und Weise seawater firefighting pumps and sprinkler systems are at the ready to dampen magazines. In addition, a CO2 fire extinguishing system protects the gas turbine and diesel engineering areas. The galleys are fitted with an ANSUL system and the flight deck and hangar with a Noske Kaeser Hy FEx foam fire extinguishing system.

 

Two Pall Rochem reverse osmosis plants generate 15m3 of fresh water each every 24 hours. The water is fed o the galleys, messes and used for cooling the guns, the air conditioners and the engine room as well as washing the helicopters. Water pumped to the guns, sensors and air conditioners are chilled by two Noske Kaeser refrigerators. An oil-fired hot water boiler, made by the same company provides ships’ heating, while hot water for the galley and messes comes from a 600 litre 45kW electric geyser.

 

The class is also defined by a lack of funnel, causing some wags to call them "boats." In traditional naval terminology the difference between a ship and a boat lay in the presence or absence of a funnel. It is one reason submarines, regardless of size, are always called boats. To add stealth, exhaust fumes from the Meko A200 design are cooled and released below or just above the waterline, making the corvette almost invisible for infrared systems.

 

In 2004, then-project director Rear Admiral (JG) Johnny Kamerman explained that the ships’ design features incorporated stealth characteristics that gave the Valour-class very low radar, acoustic and magnetic signatures. “It is the first major warship in the world with a horizontal exhaust and water jet propulsion, and has an X-form outer hull," he said. Its manufacturers added that the design has the radar cross section of a missile patrol boat, 75% less infra red signature than previous designs as well as a 20% lower life cycle cost, 25% less displacement and 30% fewer crew. The lack of funnels also frees premium space amidships for armament, crew quarters and store rooms.

 

The class’ combat management system (CMS), apparently accounts for about 40 percent of each ship's cost) was provided by Thales Detexis at a total cost of R2.599 billion. The Tavitac system is also fitted to the French La Fayette-class frigate and versions are aboard the Saudi F3000 air defence frigates and the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

 

The acquisition contract also included a comprehensive logistics package, accounting for 7.5% of order volume. The package includes adequate and prompt spare parts supply, documentation and training. Also included was a computer-based Naval Logistic Management System that controls on board maintenance planning and execution by automatically generating weekly check lists and repair schedules.

 

Replenishment at sea can take place over the bow, stern or athwartships. Liquid and dry goods as well as passengers weighting up to 250kg can be transferred this way. Vertical replenishment can take place over the helideck and/or foredeck.

 

Kamerman said the ship was designed to "take punishment" and was designed for inherent growth. It had spaces with all the necessary fittings for rapid fitting of additional capabilities without needing modification. This meant that the ship could increase its surface to air missile outfit from 16 to 32 launch cells in a few hours. It is expected that the class will be substantially upgraded over the ships’ 30-40 year life. Kamerman has said the ships had plenty of space to accommodate new equipment and weapons and was designed to easily allow the removal of outdated technology through easily accessible hatches.

 

Possible planned upgrades include:

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: AUVs (under study as part of Project Mapantsula) are expected to revolutionise undersea warfare the way UAVs have air warfare. It is anticipated each of the corvettes and the multi-purpose hull vessels will carry an AUV for minehunting purposes, obviating the need for specialist vessels.

  • UAVs: The Navy is following the ongoing development of rotor-propelled UAVs and plan to purchase some, to a scale of two per ship, when the technology matures.

  • Land Attack Missiles: As of 2008 the class deliberately lacks a land-attack cruise missile capability for political reasons: such weapons are seen by some as “too aggressive” and out of keeping with the Valour-class’s “defensive posture.” However, like its peers the SA Navy recognises the growing importance of fighting in the littoral battlespace and supporting land forces during war and peace operations. As a result, a missile land attack capability is likely to be added as funds become available and sensitivities are assuaged.

  • Upgrading Umkhonto: Denel is developing an all-weather version (dubbed AWSAM, all weather surface-to-air missile) fitted with a radar seeker and booster for the SA Army’s Ground-based air defence system (GBADS) as part of Projects Protector and Outcome. This would suggest the Umkhonto VLS (vertical launch system) can accommodate missiles capable of medium ranges and area defence (the current Umkhonto-IR is, by contrast, a short-range point-defence system.

  • A new main gun: The 76mm gun fitted to the class is an interim cost-saving measure. Senior naval officials are well aware the gun is too small to effectively support forces ashore. In the medium term, a navalised version of the 105mm Denel LEO or the Denel G6 is considered optimum because of range and the already-existing range of land attack munitions for both calibres. The Navy was suitably impressed by the December 2002 testing of a German 155mm PzH2000 turret aboard the frigate Hamburg in the place of the 76mm gun and a later test aboard the Hessen. In January 2006 Jane's International Defence Review reported that the “development of the MONARC (modular naval artillery concept) naval 155 mm gun turret has moved up a gear following what contractor Rheinmetall described as the turret's ‘tentative pre-selection’ as part of the armament solution for the German Navy's future F125 frigate programme.

 

The Meko design was up against the LaFayette, an Italian Fincantieri design, a Spanish Bazan proposal and the British Marconi F3000 tender. The Bazan proposal had topped an earlier acquisition effort, Project Falcon, but this was cancelled in 1995 to make way for the Strategic Defence Package.

 

Apartheid-era projects to replace the Type-12 (President) class frigates as well as the “W”(Jan van Riebeeck) class destroyers included an abortive effort (Project Taurus) to acquire four Joao de Coutinho class corvettes from Portugal, thwarted by the 1974 Revolution. This was followed by the purchase and construction of two A69 Aviso (D'Estienne d'Orves) class corvettes in France. The French however declined to deliver SAS Good Hope and SAS Transvaal after the imposition of mandatory UN sanctions in 1977. Plans were then drawn for the local construction of a class of frigates on the same slipway as that used to construct the SAS Drakensberg. Strategic considerations, war and cost eventually scuppered that project.

 

 

 

 

 

1 This pennant number previously belonged to the SAS President Pretorius, a Type 12 ASW frigate.

2 This pennant number previously belonged to the SAS President Steyn, a Type 12 ASW frigate.

3 Frigate, Small, Guided (missile).

4 1999 Treasury figure.

5 2007 Treasury figure.

 

 

6 This refers to the height, period and character of ocean waves. Sea State 5 is “rough” with waves of between 2.5m and 4m in height, while Sea State 6 is “very rough” with waves of up 6min height. There are ten sea states, ranging from calm (0) to “phenomenal” (9).


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