Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) has laid the keel of the second inshore patrol vessel (IPV) for the South African Navy that it is building under Project Biro.
The keel was laid on 28 August and following tradition, a coin was welded to the keel, by an apprentice of DSCT’s Apprentice Training Centre. The minted coin being laid on this occasion was a commemorative medal that was made in honour of the late President Nelson Mandela.
Three inshore patrol vessels are being acquired under Project Biro under a 2018 contract with DSCT. Deliveries are expected between 2021 and 2023. DSCT is supplying three 62×11 metre Stan Patrol 6211 vessels, which have a maximum speed of 26.5 knots, a range of 4 000 nautical miles, and a crew of up to 62. The vessels will each carry one 7 metre long RHIB and one 9 metre long RHIB for boarding operations.
Damen said the vessels for Project Biro are tailored to the specific requirements of the South African Navy and feature the Damen Sea Axe Bow – a vertical hull form that reduces slamming for safe, comfortable operations in rough seas. The multi-mission inshore patrol vessels are the first Sea Axe vessels to operate in South Africa.
Speaking at the keel laying inspection, Acting Chairperson of Armscor Malusi Stanley Motimele said, “I would like to thank the DSCT team for ensuring that the requirements as articulated by the South African Navy are brought to life. Armscor is extremely proud to be part of this project that will deliver multi-mission patrol vessels to the South African Navy, that will serve them well for decades to come with their mission to protect South African coastal and marine interests.”
Motimele was followed on the podium by the Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane, who said that the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic only serves to increase the importance of Project Biro.
“A well-managed maritime sector is key to the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic…Fighting Covid-19 poses new dilemmas for South Africa in addition to the existing challenges of policing one of the largest maritime zones in Africa. South Africa must also fulfil numerous international safety responsibilities. Any reduction in South Africa’s supply chain efficiency could wreak economic havoc on the country and its neighbours.
“I would like to say well done and congratulations to all staff involved in the production of the MMIPVs here at DSCT for being able to maintain the construction schedule to this extent under very challenging circumstances. Your commitment to excellence is commendable. I can say with confidence to the South African people that we have selected a good partner to make this project a success. I thank you.”
DSCT board member Sefale Montsi said, “I give thanks as a South African to be associated with this project. There is much value in the seas for South Africa and its economy. I am proud to be part of a project that protects our borders and resources.”
Damen Shipyards Cape Town said the project is a demonstration of its total maritime solution, encompassing every aspect of vessel operation throughout the lifecycle as well as the contribution to a sustainable maritime industry in the region in which it operates.
“To that end, Damen has truly and enthusiastically embraced, adopted and integrated the various applicable government programmes, such as the Defence Industrial Participation (DIP), Department of Trade and Industry’s Local Content and Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) and Youth Employment Service (YES Initiative) into its project approach, and by doing so is looking to over-achieve on the requirements of these programmes. For example, Damen will exceed Project Biro’s 60% local content requirements, issuing contracts to a large number of local suppliers,” the shipyard said.
As a result of their work on Project Biro, many suppliers are now earmarked for work on Damen projects in and outside of South Africa. Additionally, DSCT’s undertaking of the project has created over 300 direct jobs and over 1 000 indirect jobs in line with the South African Government’s Operation Phakisa objectives.
Damen’s Project Director for the MMIPV projects, Jos Govaarts, elaborates, “It’s not only our objective to build three IPVs. We, as DSCT, feel it is our responsibility to create jobs and to develop our suppliers. We have the commitment to make sure that the South African maritime industry fully benefits from South African projects for the long-term. The jobs that we are creating are there to stay.”
DSCT laid the keel of the first IPV in February 2019 and said it is making good progress with the first vessel, which it expects to deliver in 2021. Armscor previously said it expects the contract to be completed around December 2025, after it became effective on 11 January 2018. It is worth R2.471 billion, with R1.439 billion paid so far, although it could escalate to R3.63 billion.
In May Armscor said regarding risks to the project, the budget shortfall due to the reduction in the Strategic Capital Acquisition Master Plan (SCAMP) allocation after 2020/21 is “becoming a serious risk, as Armscor would have a contractual obligation to honour invoices during those years. No adjustment for inflation and ROE [return on equity] has been made since 2017 and require urgent correction.”