The stated aim of SA Navy (SAN) Chief, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, is to put ships back at sea. Part of reaching this ambitious target has seen Armscor issue tenders for maintenance, repairs and in one instance – a refit – for ships in the fleet.
The refit is for an unnamed Valour Class frigate, one of four acquired as part of the late nineties Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP). The requirement for tender ARMD/2023/15 issued by Armscor states “maintenance and repair (refit) of a SAN MEKO A-200 frigate” with a closing date of 16 August.
Other SAN platforms in line for work are the supply and replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg (A301), with “maintenance spares” the sole item named in the tender announcement; a similar tender for SAS Protea (A324); and procurement of “supplementary spares for a submarine”.
As far as can be ascertained at the time of publishing none of the SAN tenders have been awarded.
Following a R1.4 billion National Treasury allocation for refits, the SAN is refitting a submarine and a frigate. The submarine refit should be completed in December 2024 and the frigate same month, with sea trials set for the first three months of 2025.
R500 million has been allocated in 2023/24 for this, R441 million the following year and R480 million in 2025/26. Work will be done in the Armscor managed Simon’s Town Naval Dockyard.
In terms of putting ships back at sea, the SAN had a four-ship presence in Richards Bay in February for the second Russo/Sino/South African Exercise Mosi. Valour Class frigate SAS Mendi (F148), hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea, multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571) and inshore patrol craft SAS Tekwane (P1554) flew the SAN ensign during the exercise as well as taking part in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) week-long annual Armed Forces Day (AFD) held in the KwaZulu-Natal port city and surrounds.
More recently, the SAN in what some navy watchers called “a mini muscle flex” tasked four platforms to transit to Gqeberha for a World Hydrography Day event. One of the four – Heroine Class Type 209 submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101) – did not take part with SAS Protea, SAS Mendi and SAS King Sekhukhune I doing the honours.