The second of the Navy’s Heroine class submarines, SAS Charlotte Maxeke, will not undergo a refit in the immediate future because the Request for Offer (RfO) was withdrawn by Armscor.
At the same time the Navy, though its public relations officer, Captain (SAN) Zamo Sithole, said the “refit is scheduled to commence once requisite funding has been identified”.
Charlotte Maxeke was commissioned on March 14, 2007, with the pennant number S102. Her sister underwater craft are SAS Manthatisi (S101) and SAS Queen Modjadji 1 (S103).
According to Armscor’s operational purchases tender system, Tender ARMD/10/14 for the refit of SA Navy submarine S102 at the Armscor Dockyard in Simon’s town has been withdrawn. The state security acquisition agency’s manager: corporate communication, Barileng Dichabe, said the RfO was not cancelled but withdrawn. “It was issued as a single source to the original equipment manufacturer (Howaldtserke, Deutsche Werft in Kiel),” she said.
Asked what effect the delay in refitting the second of the Type 209 submarines acquired by the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) as part of the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP) would have on the Navy’s underwater capability, Sithole said “to all intents and purposes the Navy will continue to have two submarines in the operational cycle at any time”.
He explained: “The SA Navy normally has one submarine in refit and two submarines in the operational cycle, with phases of maintenance, training and operational availability.
“Owing to SAS Charlotte Maxeke preparing to go into refit and SAS Manthatisi completing harbour acceptance trials (HATS) this can be construed as the SA Navy having only one submarine (SAS Queen Modjadji 1) currently in the operational cycle. However as the refit of SAS Charlotte Maxeke has yet to commence, she can still be considered to be in the operational cycle and can still be put to sea following some minor work and training, if required.”
The refit, including a complete battery replacement, of SAS Manthatisi, has been underway since 2007. She was originally targeted to start HATS in May but this was delayed due to problems with supply of certain spare and replacement parts.
“Sea acceptance trials will only commence once the Navy is satisfied all HATS have been completed to rigorous Navy safety standards,” Commander Greyling van den Berg said in June.
“No hard and fast date has been set for her re-commissioning. The date will be determined by progress of the harbour acceptance trials.”
The Navy previously pointed out the re-commissioning of SAS Manthatisi was the first time this has been done to a Type 209 submarine in the Simon’s town dockyard and the experience gained would be put to good use on the other two Heroine class underwater craft.
According to Sithole the Navy “is still intent” on the Charlotte Maxeke refit.
“It will be done as soon as possible and the refit will be completed within the planned timescales. No changes are foreseen to the Navy business plan for its submarines,” he said.