On 25 March 2021, Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) launched the first of three multi‑mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPV) procured by ARMSCOR for the South African Navy (SAN) as part of the country’s Project BIRO.
The more than 600-ton vessel was transported from the DSCT shipyard in the evening of 23 March 2021 to the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) synchrolift at the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront Basin.
Once the vessel was raised onto the synchrolift, the team waited for high tide to come in before moving it out of the V&A Basin via TNPA tugs towards the Elliot Bason.
The testing of the ship systems will now commence before the official delivery to SAN, scheduled for H2 2021.
Last month, the navy held a christening ceremony for the first of three 62-meter-long Project BIRO units.
The MMIPVs are based on Damen FCS 5009 Axe Bow design, which ensures low resistance, high sustained speed in waves and superior sea keeping characteristics in the toughest conditions.
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, according to Damen.
“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,” Eva Moloi, DSCT HR & Transformation Manager, commented.
“DSCT fully supports the transfer of technology, inclusion of local companies in the execution projects, and stimulation of export transactions under the Defence Industrial Participation (DIP) programme… The partnerships formed during this project have led to the successful launch of the MMIPV. One can truly state that the MMIPVs have been built in South Africa, by South Africans for South Africa,” she added.
The engineering of the vessel commenced 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,” Moloi noted.
The vessels will augment South Africa’s maritime security by enhancing the country’s capability to respond effectively, rapidly and cost-effectively to threats such as illegal trafficking and fishing.