Southern African Shipyards has been selected as the preferred bidder to supply a new hydrographic survey vessel to the South African Navy, and is offering the Vard Marine 9 105 design.
On 16 February Armscor announced that Damen Shipyards Cape Town has been selected as the preferred bidder to execute both the inshore and offshore patrol vessel contracts under Project Biro while Durban-based Southern African Shipyards (SAS) has been chosen to supply a new hydrographic survey capability under Project Hotel.
“During 2014, Armscor solicited offers on a multi-source tender basis from prospective shipyards … On 15 February 2017, Armscor appointed the…preferred bidders, subject to the successful negotiation of detailed technical and commercial conditions with the aim of arriving at a contracting position for the execution of the respective projects,” stated the agency. “Detailed commercial and technical negotiations with the preferred bidders will now commence with the relevant parties.”
According to Treasury the patrol vessel acquisitions have been deferred to the 2018/19 financial cycle while the replacement hydrographic vessel acquisition has been approved for the current financial year.
The new hydrographic vessel will replace the Hecla Class SAS Protea (A324) which has been in service since she was commissioned in May 1972 – just on 45 years ago.
Vard Marine (formerly STX) partnered with SAS to develop the PC7 ice strengthened vessel 95 metres in length with an approximately 12.24 MW installed diesel electric power plant, giving a maximum speed of 18 knots. The vessel has a 10 000 nautical mile range with 44 days endurance, MarineLink reports. The Vard design will be manned by a crew of 120 comprising ships’ crew and scientists.
Vard has previously designed two 9 105 hydrographic research vessels for the Royal Navy (HMS Echo and HMS Enterprise), which were delivered in 2002. They feature azimuth thrusters, where the propellers are part of a swivelling pod, allowing for precise manoeuvring. The vessels are fitted with one RHIB, one survey motor boat and one dive boat.
Vard Marine will be responsible for producing the basic design for the vessel and supporting Southern African Shipyards during the detailed design and construction phase. Final contract signing is expected in the next few months with construction scheduled to begin in 2018, according to MarineLink.
Prasheen Maharaj, CEO of Southern African Shipyards, said Projects Hotel and Biro will provide a lifeline to the maritime sector. The mood at SAS was one of excitement and anticipation “for this outstanding opportunity and privilege for the SAS team and the maritime industry of South Africa,” Maharaj said.
Maharaj said that many desperately-needed jobs will not only be preserved but additional jobs will also be created, along with the development of a local black economic empowerment supply chain. “This is Operation Phakisa in action,” he said.
Maharaj said SAS looks forward to delivering on time and within budget as it has demonstrated with the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) tug contract – the company this month delivered the fifth of nine tugs to the TNPA.
While the value of the projects will only be finalised after the completion of the contract negotiations, observers say that the total value of the Durban and Cape Town projects will be around R10 billion.
“The Blue Economy provides a fantastic opportunity to help grow our economy and of course, create employment,” said Sam Montsi, chairman of Damen Shipyards Cape Town. "Protecting our shores with quality vessels is mandatory if we are to preserve ocean resources for our people and facilitate their taking full advantage of what the oceans have to offer."
One of Armscor’s requirements for both projects Biro and Hotel is local content of 60%. The Department of Trade and Industry forecast that this local content requirement would see more than R6-billion spent within the country over a period of three or four years.