Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and defence and aerospace company Paramount Group on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop naval systems and vessels that meet the requirements of South Africa and other African states.
The MoU expands cooperation from the previous agreement between the two companies signed specifically for the South African Navy’s project Biro, which sees Navantia offer its offshore patrol vessel design to meet local requirements.
The agreement was signed between José Manuel Revuelta, Navantia’s President and Eric Ichikowitz, Group Director of Paramount Group at the Spanish Ambassador’s residence in Pretoria. It covers five key areas namely through life support management, combat systems and platform systems integration, procurement management of materials and equipment, operational maintenance training and the transfer of technology.
Revuelta said that, “Navantia and Paramount have been collaborating in the last months on a joint offshore patrol vessel proposal for Project Biro for the South African Navy. An excellent relationship between both companies has been established and this agreement is a step further that sets the basis for cooperation on new business opportunities in South Africa and other countries in the region and broader international market.”
Ichikowitz said: “There has never been a greater need for naval security in the waters around South Africa and the rest of the continent. New oil and gas resources are being discovered every month and those resources, together with industries like tourism and fisheries, are critical to the growth of African states.
“We are committed to growing an innovative and competitive shipbuilding industry in South Africa, supporting the goals of Operation Phakisa, by growing the local shipbuilding industry, increasing the contribution to GDP and multiplying the number of jobs in South Africa.
“Our partnership with Navantia will provide 21st century solutions to protect African maritime assets by meeting their specific requirements and budgets. We are driven to create and build customised vessel solutions that our clients can afford to own and operate.”
For Project Biro, Paramount Naval Systems is partnering with Navantia for the SAN’s requirement for three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and with Austal for the three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs). The IPV solution is based on the Austal Cape Class patrol vessels – these are already in service with the Australian Customs and Border Protection service.
Navantia in February 2012 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Veecraft Marine, as it then was before becoming part of Paramount, to market Navantia’s Avante class offshore and inshore patrol vessels to the SAN. Between 19 and 22 December 2012 the Spanish Navy’s Avante 3000 class OPV ESPS Relámpagois paid an informal visit to Cape Town.
Next month the Avante 3000 class vessel SPS Meteoro will be visiting South Africa after taking part in Operation Atalanta, the European Union’s anti-piracy mission off Somalia. The class has a length of 94 metres, displacement of 2 860 tons and accommodation for 35-70 people. Maximum speed is 21 knots and range at 15 knots is 8 000 nautical miles with an endurance of 35 days. Weapons include a 76/62 mm gun, two 25 mm weapons stations and two 12.7 mm machineguns. A Flight deck and hangar can accommodate a ten ton class helicopter and UAVs while two 7 metre RHIBs can be deployed by crane.
The six new naval platforms for Biro will be built in a South African shipyard, necessitating international partnerships. The six new hulls are expected to be taken into service in three to four years from now.
Ichikowitz told defenceWeb that the Biro designs would be marketed elsewhere in Africa regardless of whether they are accepted by the South African Navy.
Paramount Group has greatly expanded its naval side, incorporating Nautic South Africa, Paramount Naval Systems and Veecraft which offer the manufacture, maintenance and refurbishment of light strike craft, off-shore patrol vessels and rapid intervention vessels. Strategic partnerships have been sealed with Spain’s Navantia, Australia’s Austal, France’s DCNS and Britain’s Griffon Hoverworks.