Damen growing African presence


Dutch shipbuilder Damen is expanding its presence in the African market, delivering commercial and military vessels across the continent, with its shipyard in Cape Town at full capacity.

The company recently delivered a Stan Patrol 5009 vessel to the Cape Verde Coast Guard and is offering the type to the South African Navy to meet its Project Biro requirement for offshore and inshore patrol vessels.

Friso R Visser, Damen’s Regional Director Africa, told defenceWeb that he felt the Stan Patrol 5009 was the best inshore patrol vessel for the South African Navy, which is seeking approximately three inshore and three offshore patrol vessels.

The Stan Patrol 5009 vessel uses Damen’s innovative Axe Bow concept, which was developed by a team combining Damen Shipyards, Delft Technical University, the US Coast Guard, the Royal Netherlands Navy, and Maritime Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN). Rather than bouncing over waves, the Axe Bow design cuts through them, limiting speed degradation due to wind and waves.

It causes less slamming, allows for higher acceleration and offers less resistance (10% less in flat water and 22% less in Sea State 4). The first customer to buy the Axe Bow design was Mexico, which recorded an 18% increase in efficiency in Sea State 3/4 compared to similar size vessels. Damen has sold 74 Sea Axe vessels (featuring the Axe Bow) of ten different types to 29 customers, 17 of which have been repeat customers.

Cape Verde on January 7 this year commissioned their 51 metre long Stan Patrol 5009 patrol vessel. The Captain of that vessel, Rui Armando Correia Goncalves, said that in Cape Verde, the weather is always windy with big waves, but that when the sea is rough the ship performs very well, with good crew comfort. “In Cape Verde our issue is normally drugs, pollution, medical evacuation,” etc. he said.

Damen has seven partner shipyards in Africa, including Damen Shipyards Cape Town. Two Stan Patrol vessels are being built in Cape Town – these have no customers and are being kept as stock. They will be available in 2013.

Visser said that there is a large market for anti-piracy vessels, especially in the East African region. There is “huge demand for oil rig protection” vessels, he added, with ten Sea Axe designs being sold for counter-piracy missions in East Africa. These vessels are maintained in Cape Town. “What we see as a trend in Africa is each sea-facing country is investing in serving its exclusive economic zone.”

Visser said Damen was in talks with customers on the northeast African coast and saw enormous potential for commercial offshore patrol vessels. He noted that with the increase in piracy, there is less demand for green water vessels (coastal waters, harbours and ports). Damen has delivered six military offshore patrol vessels to Africa since 2011/12.

One of Damen’s biggest contracts in Africa came from Morocco, which ordered three SIGMA frigates in April 2008 under a contract that includes one SIGMA 10513 ship 105 metres long and two SIGMA 9813 ships 98 metres long, all with commonality in the systematic arrangement including a Tacticos combat management system with antisubmarine, surface warfare, air defence and electronic warfare capabilities.

The first frigate, Tarik Ben Zayid, was delivered on September 10, 2011. The second, frigate, Sultan Moulay Ismail, was commissioned on March 10, 2012 while the third, Allal Ben Abdellah, was handed over on September 8.

Visser noted that Damen Shipyards Cape Town is currently very busy, building ten vessels, including tugs, dredgers and pilot boats. Damen Shipyards Cape Town has been awarded a contract by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to build two 27 metre Pilot Cutters for the Port of Cape Town, with delivery for the second half of 2013. TNPA early this year signed a contract with Damen for one 27 metre pilot vessel (Pilto Cutter 2706) and its fifth Stan Tug 2006 for operations in the Port of Saldanha. The pilot boat will be delivered in May 2013 and the tug in March 2013.

The company recently sold three Stan Tug 2208 stock vessels and delivered a second Multi Cat 1908, to a customer in South America. The shipyard is working on several projects, including two 50 metre Fast Crew Suppliers (FCS 5009) and another Stan Tug 2208. A Stan Tug 2208 is being operated by Smit Amandla Marine in the Port of Beira, Mozambique, on a long term contract.

Angola has also bought three fisheries research vessels from Damen. The 62 metre long Ngola Kiluange was launched in December 2011 and delivered in September, while the Nzinga Mbandi (FISV 6210) was launched in April this year for delivery in October. Pensador, a third and smaller fishery research vessel (a Damen FRV 2810) was launched on June 22 at Damen Shipyards Cape Town. The 28 metre long vessel undertook sea trials in August prior to delivery to the Angolan Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.

The three vessels will be used to strengthen Angola’s knowledge of and control over its rich fishing grounds and to counter illegal fishing activities. Under a regional programme of the SADC (Southern African Development Community), Angola collaborates with Namibia and South Africa to protect and survey the fishing grounds.

Elsewhere in Angola, a Stan Tug 2208 (EPI Sucesso 2) was recently sold to the Epinosul tugging and workboat company in Luanda. It was built by Damen Shipyards Cape Town.

Damen recently delivered tenders and tugs to Nigeria, including the tug Otuoke for the Nigerian Ports Authorities in Lagos (July 2012).