Project Biro bidders’ conference attracts local and foreign shipyards


The recent IPV/OPV bidder conference in Simon’s Town was attended by no less than 80 representatives of both the South African and international shipbuilding sectors.

The conference was arranged by Armscor as a precursor to the issuing of tenders for three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) and the same number of offshore patrol platforms.

Fidel Hadebe, Senior Manager: Corporate Communication at Armscor, said the state’s defence and security procurement agency was “not in a position” to disclose the names of companies present at the three day conference.

As far as the next step in the acquisition process is concerned he said: “Prospective contractors will continue to prepare their offers for the June 30 closing date. Offers will then be evaluated and the preferred contractor or contractors identified”.

The acquisition of these six new naval platforms will, as per the recommendations of Project Biro, be built at South African shipyards. Before the conference Lulu Mzili, Armscor marketing and business development manager, told defenceWeb she was “unaware” of how many companies, local and international would attend the Simon’s Town event.

The local manufacture of the platforms is in line with government’s planned expansion of its ocean economy and allied sector, including shipbuilding. Last year, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies declared the local shipbuilding sector a strategic industry.

The six new hulls are expected to be taken into service in three to four years from now and will, at least initially, work alongside the current OPVs. These are the converted Warrior Class strikecraft SAS Isaac Dyobha, SAS Galeshewe and SAS Makhanda. A fourth strikecraft, SAS Adam Kok, was scheduled for conversion but it appears this has been put on hold.

Flag Officer Fleet, Rear Admiral Bravo Mhlana, indicated the Adam Kok conversion would not go ahead allowing what he termed “much-needed naval resources” to be better utilised in keeping the existing three OPVs operational until the arrival of the new platforms.

The IPV/OPV bidders’ conference follows a similar event last September when 12 interested companies were in Simon’s Town for more information on a replacement for SAS Protea, the Navy’s hydrographic vessel under project Hotel. The closing date for tenders is April 24.