Third SA Navy MMIPV to be christened on Friday


Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) and the SA Navy (SAN) will christen the latest addition to the fleet – multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) number three – on Friday (1 March).

She is the final platform in Project Biro, originally scheduled for three inshore and three offshore patrol vessels, for the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571) and SAS King Shaka Zulu (P1572) are on the SAN fleet inventory and it is expected the ship allocated pennant number P1573 will be taken into service in the third quarter of this year following launch and extensive operational testing and evaluation (OTE).

P1573 will sail as SAS Adam Kok if information provided to defenceWeb last year remains unchanged. At that time this publication was informed P1572 would carry the name “King Shaka” which had “Zulu” added soon before she was delivered to the SAN last October. P1573 has, in some communications, been called “Chief Adam Kok” with SAN public relations yet to respond to a defenceWeb inquiry on the exact name she will sail under. The SAN took delivery of its first Damen-built MMIPV SAS King Sekhukhune I in June 2022.

In the SA Navy, ship name selection is a process starting with suitable name submissions, final selection of a name, with a pennant number assigned the new platform and then onto keel laying, ceremonial ship launching, naming and blessing (termed the ship’s christening ceremony by SA Naval Museum Officer in Charge and historian, Commander Leon Steyn) followed by commissioning and taking into service. Steyn further points out before commissioning a new ship undergoes sea trials. This allows for deficiencies to be corrected.

“The preparation and readiness time between launch and commissioning may vary, from as much as three years for large and complex vessels, or as brief as weeks, often the case during the turbulent days of World War II,” according to Steyn.

Ship commissioning, according to him, is “the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service”.

“The term is most commonly applied to placing a naval vessel in active duty with its country’s military forces. The ceremonies involved are often rooted in centuries-old naval tradition. At the moment the commissioning pennant is hoisted and broken at the masthead, a ship becomes a navy command in her own right and takes her place alongside the other active ships of the fleet.”

SAS Adam Kok is, like her Warrior Class counterparts, designed and built for rapid response to, among others, counter piracy, IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and smuggling ranging from arms to goods (including narcotics) and human trafficking.

Once declared seaworthy, SAS Adam Kok will join her sister ships, including the former strike craft SAS Makhanda (P1569), at Naval Base (NB) Durban – the patrol squadron’s designated home port.

Damen Shipyards Cape Town is the shipbuilder for all three MMIPVs, completing them to the company’s Stan Patrol 6211 design. The 62 metre long, 750 ton vessels have a 20 knot economical speed and a range of 2 000 nautical miles. Each vessel is fitted with a Reutech 20 mm Super Sea Rogue marine gun and Reutech FORT (frequency modulated optical radar tracker) low probability of intercept (LPI) optronics radar tracking system, and carries a 9 metre and a 7 metre RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) for boarding and other operations.

TNPA tugs

DSCT has been awarded other government shipbuilding work, this time from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), which is injecting a R1 billion investment in its marine fleet renewal programme through the acquisition of seven tugboats aimed at enhancing marine operations at its commercial seaports.

TNPA has awarded two contracts to Damen Shipyards Cape Town to deliver the seven tugboats from April to August 2024. From this procured tug fleet, the Port of Durban has been allocated five tugboats and two will go to the Port of East London, Africa Ports & Ships reported.

“The tight delivery timeline suggests the possibility that some if not more of the tugs may come from existing stocks built elsewhere. In addition to the Cape Town yard, Damen has more than 60 shipyards across the world and frequently maintains a stock of almost ready-built tugs,” the publication added.

“The latest order for seven tugboats marks a radical departure in tugboat procurement for the TNPA, which for the past 40 or so years has placed orders almost exclusively with the Durban-based fully South African firm currently named Sandock Austral – previously Southern African Shipyards,” Africa Ports & Ships reported.