Second Project Hotel Survey Motor Boat launched

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The second of three survey motor boats has been launched in Cape Town under Project Hotel, the acquisition of a new hydrographic survey capability for the South African Navy.

Sandock Austral Shipyards (SAS) said the launch was in Cape Town on 16 November. The vessel (SMB2) will continue to harbour trials and sea acceptance testing with SAS providing specialised systems engineering and project management before delivering it to the SA Navy for utilisation.

SAS is the prime system integrator for the full scope of deliverables under Project Hotel and is responsible for achievement of all technical baselines.

“The SMBs are considered the first of their kind to be built locally in terms of sheer survey complexity and raise the bar for shipbuilding excellence,” SAS said.

The SMB2 is 11 metres long and propelled by twin Volvo Penta duo-prop propellers, providing for greater fuel efficiency and effectiveness and predictable handling alongside a Volvo Penta D3 joystick helm control system.

The vessel’s advanced survey equipment includes multi and single beam echo-sounders as well as side-scan sonar and a seabed sampler to recover material from the seafloor and underlying sub-strata for detailed analytical and testing purposes. The vessel capabilities allow for nearshore shallow water surveys in depths of up to 300 metres.

All three survey motor boats are manufactured by Veecraft Marine, a subsidiary of Paramount Marine, in Cape Town. The first was launched in August this year.

Two of the craft will be aboard the new hydrographic survey vessel being built by SAS in Durban to replace the SAS Protea, with a third ashore in reserve. The Project Hotel contract also includes a sea boat.

Project Hotel is seeing the modernisation and upgrade of SAN Hydrographic Office (SANHO) facilities and capabilities. This includes upgrading current shore-based hydrographic office infrastructure at Silvermine. State arms acquisition agency Armscor expects the project to be completed around August 2023 – the contractual completion date is November 2022.

Sandock Austral Shipyard (formerly Southern African Shipyards) is building the Protea replacement at its facilities in Durban. The first steel for the Vard Marine 9 105 design was cut in November 2018 and to date most sections of the vessel have been completed. The 95 metre long ice-strengthened vessel will have a 10 000 nautical mile range and top speed of 18 knots.

This acquisition enables the SAN Hydrographic Service to continue providing critical hydrographic and oceanographic information to the maritime service to enhance operational capabilities of  current and future maritime assets.

Sandock Austral Shipyards chief executive Prasheen Maharaj said: “The new hydrographic survey vessel puts South Africa on the global map of maritime sophistication and excellence and we are proud to have a competent and passionate team on the job.

Maharaj revealed that over the next few months there will be “significant progress” in spite of setbacks experienced due to COVID-19.



He hailed the launch of the second SMB as a “clear indication of progress” in rejuvenating the SA Navy’s hydrographic capabilities. “Sandock Austral Shipyards congratulates all role players that made this exciting milestone possible.”