Armscor seeking submarine spares for SA Navy


After issuing a tender for torpedoes, Armscor is now looking to acquire spares for the South African Navy’s submarine fleet as part of the refit process.

In a tender issued on 10 October and closing on 2 November 2017, Armscor said it was seeking the “procurement of the submarines refit spares for the SA Navy”. The spares list covers 219 separate items, such as fuses, exhaust valves, seals, ball bearings, hydraulic motors, oils, gaskets, nuts and O-rings.

The spares are relatively small and minor items, but other tenders covering larger items could be awarded as part of the refit process.

In its most recent annual report, ending 31 March 2017, Armscor said the midlife upgrades for the SA Navy’s submarines was in “the early phases of the acquisition process when feasibility studies are being conducted”. The project was expected to reach the contracting stage by 2020, 15 years after the first Type 209 submarine SAS Manthatisi was commissioned, according to the Armscor 2016/17 annual report.

In March this year Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime (Denel ISM) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) covering the support of the South African Navy’s three submarines and four frigates.

The SA Navy’s three Heroine Class submarines are SAS Manthatisi, SAS Charlotte Maxeke and SAS Queen Modjadji. Charlotte Maxeke was due for a refit several years ago but this process was put on hold in late 2014 due to a lack of funding. It is believed she is the next to undergo refit. SAS Manthatisi was in Docking and Essential Defect (DED) period earlier this year, leaving SAS Queen Modjadji I to sail for Armed Forces Week in February.

In reply to a parliamentary question posed by opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow defence minister Sarel Marais, in June this year Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula stated that the South African Navy had three submarines, with two operational. “Apart from the two operational submarines the third submarine has been in a refit period from 2014…A refit period normally takes 24 months. Delays when experienced are attributed to funding and long lead times for the delivery of spares.”

Meanwhile, in September Armscor issued a tender for a heavy weight torpedo system for the South African Navy’s Heroine class submarines, some years after it was announced that the Navy will be getting new torpedoes. Closing date for the tender is 5 March 2018, with a compulsory bidders’ conference planned after the issue of the request for offers (RFO). The bidders’ conference was initially planned for 23-27 October 2017 in Simons Town but in October Armscor announced the bidders’ conference had been moved to 22-26 January 2018.

Armscor said the heavy weight torpedo system must consist of inter alia Military Off-The-Shelf (MOTS) combat and exercise torpedoes that will be fully integrated by the prime contractor onto the Engineering Test Bed (ETB) of the Type 209 Mod RSA submarine and the three Type 209 Mod RSA submarines. “The HWTs required are combat and exercise heavy weight torpedoes that can be operated from Type 209 Mod RSA submarines,” Armscor said.

It is believed the new torpedoes will replace the existing SUT 264s, which were only intended as an interim weapon. The Department of Defence expects the torpedo capability to be replaced by 2022/23.