Waterjets a focus area of Project Syne frigate upgrade


One of the items on the South African Navy’s four Valour class frigates that will receive attention during Project Syne, for their mid-life upgrade, will be the troublesome waterjet system.

Armscor on 18 May issued a Request for Offer, closing on 22 June, for a feasibility study on the frigates’ waterjet system to “improve the treatment and prevention of corrosion”. The document, originally released in August 2016, states that “in order to ensure continued effective deployment and sustainability of the SAN Meko A200 class frigates into the future (to at least 2033), the SA Navy has commenced with a mid-life upgrade/capability sustainment process, Project Syne, which has the objective of identifying, upgrading and/or replacing systems.
“With this in mind, the platform must be upgraded/sustained in order to not only continue being utilised in ints initial intended roles and missions as perceived when the ships were originally specified by the SAN,, but the platforms must also be improved in order to fulfil additional missison as the Government’s present strategic Maritime intent prescribes.”

The RFO states that new developments in corrosion prevention and protective coatings should be considered to save equipment replacement or repair costs. “Hence, a requirement exists to address the treatment and prevention of corrosion on the FSG during the mid-life upgrade/capability sustainment project.”
“The waterjet on board the FSG has been identified to be prone to severe re-occurring corrosion. Non destructive testing (NDT) reports provide insight into the history and severity of corrosion occurrence and related repair solutions of the waterjet on the different FSGs… Although there are various opinions in terms of the types, causes and possible solutions to the corrosion, a study within Project Syne is required to investigate how the SAN can improve the treatment and prevention of corrosion inside the waterjet.”

Consequently Armscor is looking for a study to allow the Integrated Project Team to devise a solution to improve the waterjet system and make it more resistant and maintainable with regards to corrosion.

The frigates have a CODAG-WARP system (COmbined Diesel And Gas turbine-WAter jet and Refined Propellers), consisting of a steerable propeller and a water jet. The power is provided by a combination of diesel engines and gas turbines.

Project Syne, to be initiated in 2017/18, will take place over a decade to extend the Valour class frigates’ service lives beyond 2035. It is expected that the guns, combat management suite and radar system will be upgraded, amongst other items.

Some refit and upgrade work has already been done on the frigates in South Africa. The refit of the SAS Amatola was completed in Durban in 2015.

In March this year Denel and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering the support of the South African Navy’s three submarines and four frigates, presumably in support of Project Syne.

Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime (Denel ISM) will take responsibility for maintenance and upgrades on the SA Navy’s three Heroine Class submarines (SAS Manthatisi, SAS Charlotte Maxeke and SAS Queen Modjadji) and four Valour class frigates (SAS Amatola, SAS Isandlwana, SAS Spioenkop AND SAS Mendi). The vessels were commissioned by the SA Navy between 2005 and 2008.

Denel said the agreement creates a framework in which TKMS, the original manufacturer of the submarines and frigates, will provide technical and shipyard support as subcontractors to Denel. It will include quality assurance and procurement, on-site technical support, the transfer of technology and the development of the local supply chain. The training of Denel’s technical personnel will take place in Germany.

The agreement is in line with Denel’s plans to revive the Naval Dockyard facilities in Simons Town, and consequently TKMS will provide general support to the Dockyard operations, infrastructure, and maintenance. The company will also provide technical support for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the frigates and submarines in the Dockyard.