The South African Navy has awarded Armscor Defence Institutes subsidiary Institute for Maritime Technology a R2.582 million contract to develop autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) technology “as per the approved project definition.” The work was awarded last Thursday.
The SA Navy has a requirement for a number of AUV, including for four offboard minehunting systems in term of Project Mapantsula. It is not clear from the information available what the purpose of the work is.
German firm Atlas Elektronik, meanwhile, used Africa Aerospace & Defence 2010 in September last year to again showcase its range of AUV such as the SeaOtter MkII (pictured) and the SeaFox mine disposal systems. The joint ThyssenKrupp and EADS subsidiary also displayed its Mine Countermeasure Container that allows any vessel that can carry the ISO-container to become a minehunter. The container can also be deployed ashore or in harbours, allowing mine countermeasure (MCM) forces to operate off a pier.
In her budget vote in May last year, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu said the Navy had also acquired a R38.7 million shallow water route survey system to help secure the 2010 soccer World Cup. The system, consisting of an Edge Tech 4200 towed side scan sonar system and a SB 424 towfish, is deployed aboard the SAS Protea, the South African Navy’s now-aged Hecla-class hydrographic vessel.
“To support SA’s hosting of the … World Cup, a Shallow Water Route Survey capability for the SA Navy was procured and established as a short term solution to a perceived shortfall in the Soccer World Cup 2010 security-planning milieu,” Sisulu told Parliament in her second annual defence budget vote address. “The new system will be used to conduct route surveys in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town harbours and contribute towards underwater security in the respective ports.
“The system uses new Multi Beam Echo Sounder technology which will provide a full seafloor search of the seabed and provides accurate and precise data during a Shallow Water Route Survey for the provision of safe navigation and underwater security,” Sisulu added.
The R37 225 653 contract (EMTM/2009/19) for the system was awarded to Underwater Surveys (Pty) Ltd located at the Steenberg Office Park near Tokai, Cape Town, on August 5 last year. A follow-on contract was awarded last week (May 13) for R1 485 231, taking the total contract value to R38 710 884.