French shipyard Piriou has launched construction of the first of three OPV 58S offshore patrol vessels for Senegal’s navy.
The first steel was cut on 21 October during a ceremony at Piriou’s facility in Concarneau, France, which was attended by General Birame Diop, Chief of the General Staff of Senegal’s military, and Admiral Oumar Wade, Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Navy.
The contract with Senegal was signed in November 2019. Piriou said construction would take place over 44 months, and conclude in mid-2024, with first deliveries from 2023. Construction of the hulls will be divided between Concarneau and Lanester, near Lorient, where the Kership shipyard – a partnership between Piriou (55%) and Naval Group (45%) – is located.
The contract also includes several years of support in Senegal, with the vessels to be supported in Senegal by Piriou subsidiary Pirou Ngom Senegal, created in October 2017 through a partnership with Ngom & Freres. This facility is dedicated to the maintenance of naval and commercial vessels as well as the construction of small fishing craft.
Vincent Faujour, President of the Piriou Group, said: “This contract is the result of four years of joint work between the Piriou teams and that of the General Staff of the Navy of Senegal, which allowed us to design new generation patrollers, perfectly adapted to the needs of the Senegalese navy. I thank the Senegalese State for its confidence.
“This project is also a real success for the “Export Pass”, an initiative of the Ministry of the Economy and of French Finances, of which Piriou was the first signatory on 23 February 2018. This system promotes and accelerates our ability to offer financing and export guarantees.”
The OPV 58S offshore patrol vessels for Senegal are 62 metres long, 9.5 metres wide and have a maximum draft of 2.9 metres. They have steel hulls and aluminium superstructures with a 360 degree panoramic bridge, a rapid deployment/recovery system for two boats and be each able to accommodate up to 48 people, including 24 crew members. Top speed is 21 knots with a range of 4 500 miles at 12 knots, for a 25 day endurance.
A large rear deck can accommodate two 20-foot containers, handled by a crane (7.5 t to 8 m). This aft deck will end at the stern with a double ramp for two 7-meter RHIBs.
The vessels will be armed with four MBDA anti-ship missiles (Marte Mk 2Ns) and the MBDA SIMBAD-RC air defence system with two Mistral 3 surface-to-air missiles, along with a 76 mm gun and possibly two 20 mm Narwhal cannons, although this is not confirmed. France’s Naval Group will supply the combat management system (POLARIS).
The new vessels will be the most capable in Senegal’s Navy, which has been expanding over the last several years. In 2018 Senegal signed a contract with France’s Raidco Marine for two more RPB 33 patrol boats, after the shipyard delivered a single RPB 33 in 2013. The new vessels are due to be delivered in 2020 and will be operated on behalf of the High Authority for Maritime Security, Maritime Safety and Marine Environment (HASSMAR) by the Senegalese Navy.
Senegal’s navy received a boost in February 2018 when the United States handed over two donated 11.5 metre Defiant class patrol boats. The donation included boat repair and maintenance kits, and towing vehicles, and a two-week training session on the use and maintenance of the vessels.
In 2015 Senegal received the 45.8 metre long offshore patrol vessel Kedougou from STX France. This was ordered from Raidco Marine, which subcontracted construction to the STX Lorient shipyard. This was followed a year later by the 58 metre long Fouladou offshore patrol vessel, built by France’s Ocea.
The new vessels are part of Senegal’s plan to renew its naval fleet and allow the maritime arm of service to carry out missions such as fisheries inspection, fighting drug trafficking and piracy. Senegal’s navy is tasked with patrolling 700 kilometres of coastline and 159 000 square kilometres of exclusive economic zone (EEZ).