Minister Class names possible for new SA Navy patrol vessels


The SA Navy has not yet allocated names for the new additions to the fleet. However, informed sources in Simon’s Town indicate the possible revival of the Minister Class, with the names of defence ministers in the democratic era a likely choice.

Construction work on the first of three multi-mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPVs) is well underway at Cape Town’s Damen Shipyards with mid-next year currently set as its entry into service date.

Pennant numbers for the new patrol assets have been allocated with the “P” prefix used by the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

This sees MMIPV number one, the keel of which was laid in February, allocated P1571. She will be followed by MMIPV number two a year later with the pennant number P1572. The third and final inshore patrol vessel is set to become part of the fleet in 2023 and will carry pennant P1573. According to the SA Naval Museum there have to date been 28 vessels carrying the “P” pennant indicating “patrol and light forces”.

The SA Navy’s official response to an inquiry regarding vessel names and class is that no decision on either has yet been taken.

An unofficial source in Simon’s Town has it the new additions could be named in honour of defence ministers since democracy and the MMIPVs will hopefully form the nucleus of an at least six platform patrol flotilla.

The name Joe Modise, the first democratic era defence minister, is likely to grace P1571 but the “unofficial” jury is out on the names for the other two MMIPVs – either Mosiuoa Lekota, Lindiwe Sisulu, Charles Nqakula or Roelf Meyer.

The Minister Class strikecraft, among South Africa’s prime naval mission equipment during the apartheid and sanctions eras, also carried the names of defence ministers. They included Jan Smuts, Frans Erasmus and Oswald Pirow. Post-democracy, three strikecraft were revamped into offshore patrol vessels, currently still in service.

They are SAS Galeshewe (P1567), SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565) and SAS Makhanda (P1569).