The return of SAS Adam Kok (P1563) to Simon’s town, towed by SAS Protea (A324), last week confirms the Navy will not be adding another revamped strikecraft to its three-strong complement of offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).
Adam Kok, along with SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565), SAS Galeshewe (P1567) and SAS Makhanda (P1569), were the four Warrior Class strikecraft identified for refit and refurbishment as OPVs to fill this gap in the fleet until the arrival of new vessels to fill the offshore patrol tasking.
She was towed to Durban two years ago in anticipation of becoming an OPV, but this never materialised and she now lies dormant in Simon’s town.
Asked what her future is the Fleet media office said: “There are no future plans for any refit on SAS Adam Kok. An analysis will be conducted on her to see if she can be utilised for training purposes”.
Some navy watchers in Simon’s town have suggested she could become a gunnery target at some stage – “after all it is training,” said one.
In August SA Navy media officer Captain Zamo Sithole said the mid-life refit of SAS Isandlwana (F146) had been put on hold pending funding for the refit becoming available. She would have been the second of the Navy four’s Valour Class frigates to undergo a comprehensive mid-life refit after SA Shipyards successfully did the same work on SAS Amatola (F145).
“She is undergoing maintenance to extend her operational capability,” he said at the time.
The maritime arm of the SANDF has a full-time commitment to the Southern African Development community anti-piracy tasking Operation Copper in the Mozambique Channel. This sees it deploy mostly OPVs but frigates have also been utilised as has the supply and replenishment vessel, SAS Drakensberg (A301).
An unknown numbers of tenders have been submitted to Armscor for three each of OPVs and inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) to boost the Navy’s patrol capabilities. At this stage there is no indication when the successful bidders will be announced and what the expected delivery dates are.
Earlier this year Armscor said it “could take up to a year” for evaluation of tenders to build a new hydrographic vessel for the Navy, so the IPV/OPV evaluation could well take longer.
While nothing has yet been finalised on actual building of the new platforms the Navy is confident its recruitment strategy will provide it will sufficient manpower to crew and support the new additions.
In May Rear Admiral Sagaren Pillay, director: maritime strategy, said: “There is a clearly formulated personnel plan that will address the manning of future acquisitions”.
Early indications are the offshore vessels will have a ship’s company around the 45 mark with the inshore vessels needing about 35 crew members. Each platform will also accommodate a section of the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) and a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) team when at sea.
Picture by Doug Drysdale via the Unofficial SAAF website