The second SA Navy (SAN) multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) built in South Africa will, the shipbuilders have it, be named in a ceremony at Naval Base (NB) Durban on Friday, 27 October.
SAS King Shaka Zulu (P1572) will join SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571) in SAN service, with MMIPV number three, SAS Adam Kok (P1573) set to complete the class in the SAN patrol squadron next August.
Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) is the shipbuilder for all three MMIPVs and notes in a statement advising of Friday’s naming ceremony the newest addition to the SAN inventory is “a vital addition” to the fleet. Designed for rapid response capabilities along South Africa’s 2 798 km coastline, primary missions include countering piracy, illegal fishing and smuggling operations.
SAS King Sekhukhune I was taken into service in May last year and has, since operational testing and evaluation (OTE), been part of the SAN deployment for this year’s Armed Forces Day/Week in Richards Bay in February and the joint Russo/Sino/SA naval exercise Mosi II off the Northern KwaZulu-Natal coast. Ahead of the Richards Bay deployment, she took part in exercises Ibsamar and Oxide. She was also tasked to be in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront for last month’s cancelled mini navy festival. The MMIPV was, according to reports, abeam the submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101) during the ill-fated vertrep (vertical replenishment) evolution with a 22 Squadron Super Lynx maritime helicopter on 20 September.
Like her sister ships, King Shaka Zulu is a DSCT Stan Patrol 6211 vessel. The 62 metre long, 750 ton vessels have a 20 knot economical speed and a range of 2 000 nautical miles. Each vessel is fitted with a Reutech 20 mm Super Sea Rogue marine gun and Reutech FORT (frequency modulated optical radar tracker) low probability of intercept (LPI) optronics radar tracking system.
Along with SAS King Sekhukhune I and the refurbished strikecraft SAS Makhanda (P1569), King Shaka Zulu will make up the three-ship strong patrol squadron at NB Durban. The busy east coast port was previously home port of the then Warrior strikecraft flotilla and will be the patrol squadron base until the new SAN base at Richards Bay is ready to receive, operate and maintain vessels.
There is, as yet, no finality on when the new naval base will become operational. This was made clear by SAN Chief, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, when addressing an August medal parade. He said the “planned move to Richards Bay is progressing steadily and we [the SAN] are at the mercy of Transnet National Ports Authority to move the process forward. Remember, the TNPA asked us to move, not the other way around. The Navy agreed to the move in principle, but made it clear we expect a brand new naval base in Richards Bay before we move there. Currently the memorandum of understanding between the SANDF and TNPA has been finalised and we are waiting to sign it”.