In two weeks’ time to the day, Naval Station Durban will welcome home SAS Amatola following an extensive mid-life refit at Southern African Shipyards (SAS).
She was the first Valour Class frigate to be delivered to the SA Navy and was commissioned in September 2005. Amatola has been in SAS’s Durban facility for the past 15 months undergoing a complete refit, excluding armament but including the removal of her engines and gas turbines for overhaul.
Amatola was originally due to be handed back to the Navy by the end of this month but “problems” with the Port of Durban management have delayed the handover by eight working days.
Charles Maher of SAS said the frigate would be taken back into the Navy inventory when she steams to Naval Station Durban on July 10.
“Once there she will firstly undergo harbour trials with a naval crew followed by sea trials and it is expected she will then transit to Simon’s Town,” he told defenceWeb.
Back in her home port, Amatola will have her armament refitted and indications are she will then undergo a complete sea and weaponry assessment before being put onto the equipment roster as “fully serviceable” again.
Her armament includes a 76 mm Otobreda main gun, a pair of LIW DPG 35 mm and two Oerlikon 20 mm cannons as well as eight Exocet MM40 anti-ship missile and Umkhonto 16 cell vertically launched surface to air missiles. She is also fitted with torpedo tubes but none of the Valour Class frigates presently carry torpedoes.
Unconfirmed reports have it Armscor has withdrawn the tender for mid-life refit work on the second Valour Class frigate, SAS Isandlwana. Tenders for this work were originally set to close on July 2. The withdrawal had not been confirmed at the time of publication.