Paramount teaming with Navantia and Austal on Biro


Paramount Naval Systems is teaming with shipbuilders Navantia and Austal on Project Biro for three inshore and three offshore patrol vessels for the South African Navy (SAN).

Paramount Naval Systems, formed after the acquisition of Nautic Africa, and boosted by the acquisition of Veecraft Marine in September 2014, 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, 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.

A number of shipyards are bidding for Project Biro, with bids closing on September 30. A bidder’s conference was held in late March. The six new naval platforms will, as per the recommendations of Project Biro, 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 and will, at least initially, work alongside the current OPVs. These are the converted Warrior Class strikecraft SAS Isaac Dyobha, SAS Galeshewe and SAS Makhanda. A fourth strikecraft, SAS Adam Kok, was scheduled for conversion but it appears this has been put on hold.

A Paramount Naval Systems spokesperson told told defenceWeb that Paramount Naval Systems is well positioned to bid for Project Biro as it has the capability and skills here in South Africa to design and manufacture a wide range of advanced, state-of-the art world class vessels of various sizes, including those that meet the requirements of Biro. “Our facilities in Cape Town have a reputation for building naval vessels that are meeting customers’ requirements. Our vessels are equipped with the latest technologies and ideally suited for African coastal conditions. It is this reputation of delivery and commitment to innovation that is contributing to our very healthy order book.”

Paramount Naval Systems is in the process of expanding its production facilities to meet the future growth of the business. “We are able to secure orders and successfully compete against international shipyards, delivering global standards and a highly competitive, value adding proposition. African states should not have to look to the US, Europe and Asia for their naval requirements. The skills, capacity and spirit of innovation are all right here,” Paramount said.

The French Gowind class OPV L’Adroit recently visited Cape Town in the middle of May. The current Gowind design does not meet the state requirements for Project Biro. However it is being promoted to other African countries. Its manufacturer DCNS is working with Paramount on other potential sales, Paramount said.

Paramount announced the acquisition of Nautic Africa in November 2013 and Veecraft Marine in September 2014, firmly establishing its presence across air, land and sea, after the acquisition of Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE – now called Paramount Advanced Technologies) and the establishment of Paramount Robotics.