The future of the Simon’s Town naval dockyard, a strategic national asset which features prominently in government’s blue economy initiative, can at present best be described as “on hold”.
Armscor, the current operator of the facility, maintains the ball in now in the court of Denel, which is set to take over management. Denel, from its side, this week told defenceWeb “consultations with various key stakeholders are at a very sensitive stage and we are unable to comment at this point”.
Earlier this year Armscor indicated it was ready, willing and able to hand over management of the dockyard to the state-owned defence and technology conglomerate. There were, according to government’s defence and security acquisition agency, “National Treasury issues outstanding”.
In response to this Denel Group Manager: Communication and Public Affairs Pam Malinda said: “Consultations on all the relevant processes are still underway. At the right time we will make the necessary announcement in collaboration with key stakeholders on this matter”.
Asked if China’s Poly Technologies Group was still seen as a potential partner for Denel in management and operation of the dockyard, she said a non-disclosure agreement was signed with Poly Technologies in 2016. “We cannot comment,” she told defenceWeb.
Speaking during Armed Forces Day in Kimberley in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he expected “rejuvenation” of the Simon’s Town naval dockyard. This would enhance the national shipbuilding sector, an integral component of the blue economy portion of Operation Phakisa.
“It will commence with the building of patrol and survey vessels for the SA Navy to rejuvenate the national shipbuilding industry,” Ramaphosa said as Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
Approval for four new hulls for the maritime service of the SANDF has been given with Durban-based Southern African shipyards named successful contractor for a replacement hydrographic vessel (Project Hotel). Damen Shipyards Cape Town is the successful tenderer for three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) with the first steel expected to be cut in about six months. The IPV contract is expected to run for about four years and will provide the SA Navy with extra patrol capabilities.