The SA Navy’s offshore patrol capabilities will be firmly on the bridges of its Valour Class frigates, Heroine Class submarines, the supply and replenishment platform SAS Drakensberg and converted strikecraft for the foreseeable future.
With the demand for its patrol capability to be increased, the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) asked Armscor to make public a Request for Information (RfI) for six patrol platforms – three inshore and three offshore.
In February, Armscor said Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSC) was the preferred bidder for all six hulls.
Now its chunk of new SA Navy business has effectively been halved.
Solomzi Mbada, Armscor Group Executive Manager: Corporate Support, said in response to a defenceWeb enquiry “the Project Biro OPVs (offshore patrol vessels) RfO (Request for Offer) has been cancelled”.
As far as the inshore patrol vessels and the Navy’s new hydrographic vessels (Project Hotel) are concerned, the State’s defence and security acquisition agency is still negotiating with shipyards, Mbada said.
South African Shipyards in Durban was named the preferred bidder for Project Hotel in February, for a new hydrographic survey vessel to replace the SAS Protea.
The acquisition of the new fit for purpose patrol vessels ties in with the blue economy component of Operation Phakisa. The Navy is tasked with the protection of maritime resources, including minerals, oil and gas as well as protein while South Africa’s shipbuilding industry is to showcase its abilities building what was going to be seven hulls.
Indications from government are that the blue economy sector of Operation Phakisa will be contributing R177 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2033. This will come from direct and indirect maritime operations such as shipbuilding and maintenance, offshore exploration and exploitation of resources and protection of these resources as well as preventing pollution and poaching.