First of three inshore patrol vessels launched

The first of three Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessels at the Waterfront Basin.

The first of three Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessels (MMIPV) procured by Armscor for the South African Navy (SAN) was launched on Thursday March 25.

The vessel, launched by Damen Shipyards Cape Town, will boost South Africa’s maritime security by enhancing the country’s capability to respond effectively to threats such as illegal trafficking and fishing.

Armscor is the acquisition agency for the Department of Defence.

Damen Shipyards project manager, Ian Stewart said the launch was an important milestone for the shipyard, as it was the culmination of three years of hard work, and more than one million man-hours of work will be invested in the construction of the three vessels.

The more than 600-ton vessel was transported from the shipyard in the Foreshore to the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) synchrolift at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront basin.

The move was conducted by Mammoet South Africa, using 48 axle lines of self-propelled moving transporters.

Mammoet project manager, Uzayr Karimulla, said while moving the vessel at night meant less impact on traffic, the reduction in light was challenging.

Once the vessel was raised onto the synchrolift, the team waited for high tide to come in before moving it out of the Waterfront Basin with tugboats towards the Elliot Bason.

The testing of the ship systems will now commence before the vessel will officially be delivered to Armscor and the navy before the end of the year.

The vessels are built according to the patented Damen Axe Bow design, which ensures low resistance, high sustained speed in waves and sea keeping characteristics in the toughest conditions.

According to the company, as vertical accelerations are reduced significantly and bow slamming almost eliminated, the safety of the vessel and crew increases considerably, reducing operational risks. The multi-mission deck is used for supporting diving, search and rescue and anti-piracy operations.

Damen Shipyards human resources and transformation manager, Eva Moloi, said with this project, the company had invested in local South African skills transfer, training, and entrepreneurship development and collaboration, which have resulted in a strong South African pool of scarce trade skills and supplier partnerships.

“Our local skills transfer and Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) initiatives mean that we are not only contributing to the South African economy but ensuring that our local South African maritime market is less reliant on imports from international suppliers.

“One can truly state that the MMIPVs have been built in South Africa, by South Africans for South Africa.”

The engineering of the vessel started in 2018 and the keel was laid in February 2019.

“Despite the Covid lockdown period, our local skills and partnerships, resilient production schedule and advanced planning capabilities of our Cape Town team, allowed the different subcontractors and teams to work on the vessel in a safe manner,” said Ms Moloi.