Soon after taking over as SA Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwane told defenceWeb the capital acquisition programme of the maritime service was “on track”. Further proof of this comes with two Armscor tenders for the supply of six multi-mission inshore patrol vessels.
The vessels will be acquired for the Navy in two batches of three each and represent another milestone in Project Biro, originally the vehicle for the acquisition of both inshore and offshore patrol vessels that first saw the light of day some 10 years ago.
According to the Armscor Tender Bulletin the requirements, in both, are for the supply of three multi-mission inshore patrol vessels and associated integrated logistic support for the SA Navy. The tenders were issued on December 3 and the specified closing date is June 30 next year.
This will be followed by a period of evaluation before any announcement is made on the successful tenderer or tenderers.
A Navy insider said the tender issues were “extremely good. This should have happened years ago. As one example take the money the Navy would have saved if inshore or even offshore, specialist, patrol vessels had been deployed on Operation Copper (the SADC counter-piracy operation in the Mozambique Channel) instead of the Valour Class Frigates or refurbished strikecraft, now in the offshore patrol type”.
The Navy is currently deploying only OPVs to the Mozambique Channel and, with aerial support coming from SA Air Force elements based at Pemba, it seems the modified strikecraft will retain this role until the new platforms are taken into service. This should be in around three to four years.
New tugs are currently being built for the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and Armscor has also hosted a bidder’s conference as regards a replacement hydrographic vessel.