Cape Town-based shipbuilding and maritime solutions company Nautic Africa will be building seven of its new 35-metre Fast Multi Role Patrol Vessels for West African clients, at a total value in excess of R600 million. The vessels will be the first in their class to be designed and built in South Africa.
Nautic Africa has already laid keels on two of the vessels, with three to follow in July. It expects to make its first deliveries next year and to complete the contract early in 2015.
The orders resulted from the company’s collaboration with West African navies, as well as oil and gas companies, to develop an effective way of counteracting illegal fishing, piracy and other illicit offshore activities.
James Fisher, Nautic Africa CEO, said: “The orders reflect our customers’ confidence in our ability to deliver solutions-based products, coupled with unparalleled on-the-ground service and support.” They have also cemented plans for the expansion of Nautic Africa’s second West African base, in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which will focus exclusively on vessel life cycle support and servicing. The company already has a base in Takoradi, Ghana.
A spin-off of the orders is that Nautic Africa expects to create 100 jobs over the next two years in the Cape Town area. To ensure that its workforce has the requisite skills to meet the global standards expected by its clients, Nautic Africa will embark on an aggressive apprenticeship programme to train fabricators, welders and general artisans.
While tackling the challenge of designing a vessel with the ability to address the current offshore security issues in the Gulf of Guinea, Nautic Africa’s in-house design team collaborated with a Cape Town-based naval architect. The new 35-metre Fast Patrol Vessels will have the capability of much larger, more expensive vessels.
They will utilise the South African-developed Nautic ‘Super Shield’ Ballistic Protection system, and will be sold with a multitude of role capabilities, key being the Nautic Fast Deployable Interceptors (FDI), vessels known as Guardians.
These interceptors incorporate a beyond-horizon, mother/daughter communication interface with the mother ship. They will be powered by a Swedish Marine Diesel 500HP inboard engine, coupled to either a surface-piercing MSA propeller drive, or a jet drive, that is capable of powering the nine-metre craft up to speeds of more than 50 knots.
“The majority of territorial water off-shore threats are from largely indistinguishable craft less than 12 metres in length,” said Fisher. “The FDIs, which are deployable in minutes, enhance the patrol effectiveness of offshore assets and enable personnel to communicate with small fishing boats and/or make arrests at sea level. This makes policing safer and more effective.”
The new class of vessel that is being built to meet the West African order represents the first of various Proudly South African vessel developments at Nautic Africa. The project also demonstrates real activity and growth between South Africa and the rest of Africa.