On 28 August, Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) held a keel-laying ceremony for the second of three multi-mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPV) being built for the South African Navy’s Project BIRO.
The project aims to develop maritime security, ensuring South Africa’s capabilities to respond effectively, rapidly, and cost-efficiently to maritime threats such as piracy and illegal fishing.
Back in 2018, South African defense procurement agency Armscor awarded contracts for the construction of three 62-meter-long ships to Damen.
“Armscor is extremely proud to be part of this project that will deliver multi-mission patrol vessels to the South African Navy, that will serve them well for decades to come with their mission to protect South African coastal and marine interests,” Acting Chairperson of Armscor, Motimele, said.
Vice Admiral Hlongwane, Chief of the South African Navy, said that the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic only serves to increase the importance of Project BIRO.
“A well-managed maritime sector is key to the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic… Fighting Covid-19 poses new dilemmas for South Africa in addition to the existing challenges of policing one of the largest maritime zones in Africa. South Africa must also fulfill numerous international safety responsibilities… any reduction in South Africa’s supply chain efficiency could wreak economic havoc on the country and its neighbours,” he explained.
“I would like to say well done and congratulations to all staff involved in the production of the MMIPVs here at DSCT for being able to maintain the construction schedule to this extent under very challenging circumstances.”
The vessels for Project BIRO are tailored to the specific requirements of the South African Navy and feature the Damen Sea Axe Bow – a vertical hull form that reduces slamming for safe, comfortable operations in rough seas.
With this initiative, Damen will not only deliver a ship, but a total maritime solution, encompassing every aspect of vessel operation throughout the lifecycle as well as the contribution to a sustainable maritime industry in the region in which it operates.
DSCT is making good progress with the first Project BIRO IPV, which it expects to deliver in 2021, according to the shipbuilder.