Cape Town-based shipyard Nautic Africa has received orders for seven of its new 35 metre Fast Multi-Role Patrol Vessels from West African customers, and is already constructing two of them.
Nautic Africa said the contracts for the vessels – the first in their class to be designed and built in South Africa – are worth R600 million.
Two keels have already been laid, with the remaining three to follow later this month. Nautic expects to make its first deliveries next year and to complete the contract early in 2015.
The orders resulted from the company’s collaboration with West African navies, as well as oil and gas companies, to develop an effective way of counteracting illegal fishing, piracy and other illicit offshore activities, Nautic Africa said in a statement on Monday.
“The orders reflect our customers’ confidence in our ability to deliver solutions-based products, coupled with unparalleled on-the-ground service and support,” said James Fisher, Nautic Africa CEO.
He added that the company has also cemented plans for the expansion of its second West African base, in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which will focus exclusively on vessel life-cycle support and servicing. The company already has a base in Takoradi, Ghana.
The new 35 metre patrol vessels were designed in collaboration with a Cape Town-based naval architect in response to offshore security issues in the Gulf of Guinea. The company claims they will have the capability of much larger, more expensive vessels.
They will utilise the South African-developed Nautic ‘Super Shield’ Ballistic Protection system and will be sold with a multitude of role capabilities, key being the Nautic Fast Deployable Interceptors (FDI), vessels known as Guardians.
These interceptors incorporate a beyond-horizon, mother/daughter communication interface with the mother ship. They will be powered by a Swedish Marine Diesel 500HP inboard engine, coupled to either a surface-piercing MSA propeller drive, or a jet drive, that is capable of powering the 9-metre craft up to speeds of more than 50 knots.
“The majority of territorial water off-shore threats are from largely indistinguishable craft less than 12 metres in length,” said Fisher. “The FDIs, which are deployable in minutes, enhance the patrol effectiveness of offshore assets and enable personnel to communicate with small fishing boats and/or make arrests at sea level. This makes policing safer and more effective.”
A spin-off of the patrol vessel orders is that Nautic Africa expects to create 100 jobs over the next two years in the Cape Town area. “To ensure that its workforce has the requisite skills to meet the global standards expected by its clients, Nautic Africa will embark on an aggressive apprenticeship programme to train fabricators, welders and general artisans,” the company said.