2021 is still a way off but this has not stopped the SA Navy allocating pennant numbers to the three multi-mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPVs) which will boost the fleet’s patrol capabilities.
The keel for the first inshore patrol vessel (IPV) was laid in February at Damen Shipyards Cape Town and she has been allocated pennant number P1571. The vessel is planned to go into service in 2021 and will be followed by the second IPV with the pennant number P1572 a year later. The third and final IPV is set to become part of the fleet in 2023 and will carry pennant P1573.
At the time of publication there was no indication what names the new platforms will be given or what their class will be.
According to the SA Naval Museum there have to date been 28 vessels carrying the “P” pennant indicating “patrol and light forces”.
The first two in service in 1943 were SAS Fleur 1 (P273) and SAS Somerset (P285). Both were boom defence vessels with Fleur decommissioned in 1965 and Somerset following 21 years later in 1986.
Other SAN vessels to have “P” pennants are the SAS Tobie (P1552), SAS Tern (P1553) and SAS Tekwane (P1554). All are T-craft inshore patrol vessels which, with the exception of still in service SAS Tekwane, are in reserve.
Four former Minister Class strikecraft were converted to offshore patrol vessels in the Warrior Class. Still in service are SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565), SAS Galeshewe (P1567) and SAS Makhanda (P1569) with SAS Adam Kok (P1563) in reserve.
Other SA Navy vessels that have carried “P” pennants include patrol sweepers, seaward defence boats and the torpedo recovery vessel SAS Fleur 11 (P3148), in service from 1969 to 2003.
The MMIPVs are being built to the patented Damen Axe Bow design, which Damen says ensures low resistance, high sustained speed in waves and superior sea keeping characteristics, even in tough conditions. As vertical accelerations are reduced significantly and bow slamming even entirely eliminated, safety of vessel and crew increases significantly, reducing operational risks.
The MMIPVs have an overall length of 62.2m, beam of 11.0m and a maximum speed of 20 knots. They will be crewed by 40 personnel, with space for an embarked force of 22. They will be fitted with a Communication Intercept and a passive Close-In Surveillance systems.