SAS Amatola to be back in service early next year


The South African Navy’s frigate SAS Amatola will be ready to deploy operationally in the first quarter of 2016 after being refitted with her weapons. She recently underwent an extensive refurbishment at Southern African Shipyards in Durban and is currently undergoing the weapons refit in Simon’s Town.

The 121 metre long, 3 700 ton vessel was handed back to the Navy at Salisbury Island Naval Station on 31 July and sailed for Simon’s Town on 1 August after the R400 million overhaul, which took place between March 2014 and July 2015.

Prasheen Maharaj, CEO of Southern African Shipyards, said the refit involved the replacement of both main propulsion units, the refurbishment of the gas turbines, the complete blast and re-coating of the ship and the refurbishment of accommodation, bridge, engine control room, galley, mess, helicopter deck and hangar and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Charles Maher, SAS General Manager: Marketing told defenceWeb that the refit had gone smoothly, with the only issue being the rudders, which had to be sent to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Germany for repair.

He said the Navy was extremely satisfied with the work that has been carried out look forward to similar work on future vessels being carried out in the same manner.

Commander Rachel Dulamo of the South African Navy told defenceWeb that the SAS Amatola’s refit was planned in two stages: a platform refit in Durban and a weapon system refit in Simon’s Town. The major components of the weapons system were removed before the ship let Simon’s Town for Durban and were sent for deep maintenance and refurbishment.

The ship is now in the Dock in Simon’s Town and is being fitted with installation and alignment of major weapon system components, Dulamo said. She added that the ship should be ready to deploy operationally in the first quarter of 2016 after it has gone through its safety and readiness checks.
“The Navy is happy with the work conducted by SA Shipyards,” Dulamo said.

Although the SAS Isandlwana is earmarked to be number two in line for a mid-life refit, she currently undergoing maintenance to extend her operational capability as no funding has yet been made available for refit. Maher said SAS was trying to revive the Isandlwana refit tender.

Maher said that the work done on Amatola has proved that SAS can carry out naval maintenance on an African scale and this opens the door to other African markets where naval fleets are not in the best state. He added that the Durban-based company is looking at South Africa’s neighbours and their naval forces.

Maharaj said Southern African Shipyards was now eyeing the replacement of the fleet replenishment vessel, SAS Drakensberg, but no official requirement shad been issued by Armscor.