SA Navy gets another boost in fight against piracy, smuggling

The blessing ceremony of the SA Navy’s third Multi-mission Inshore Patrol Vessel (MMIPV).Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

The blessing ceremony of the SA Navy’s third Multi-mission Inshore Patrol Vessel (MMIPV).Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 5, 2024


In an important milestone, Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) hosted the blessing ceremony for the third multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) to be delivered as part of Project Biro.

The event was attended by various dignitaries from the Department of Defence, Armscor and the SA Navy.

DSCT, a joint venture between the Damen Shipyards Group based in the Netherlands and South Africa-based Montsi Investments, has been operational in South Africa since 2007 when the Damen Group acquired the facilities and hired the personnel of Farocean Marine shipyard.

The partnership between DSCT, Armscor and the SA Navy plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of Project Biro and the delivery of three state-of-the-art MMIPVs.

The first MMIPV, SAS King Sekhukhune I, was delivered in May 2022 to Armscor, with the SA Navy commissioning the second MMIPV, SAS King Shaka Zulu, in October 2023.

The MMIPVs are designed to deliver a rapid response capability along South Africa’s coastline to counter piracy, illegal fishing, and smuggling operations. Their Sea Axe Hull design, patented by Damen, ensures exceptional seakeeping behaviour, reduced fuel consumption, and enhanced safety and comfort on board.

“The ongoing partnership between Armscor, the SA Navy and DSCT has significantly impacted maritime security and the shipbuilding industry. Together we have been able to empower small and medium enterprises and build three world-class vessels entirely in South Africa. We have also built, commissioned, trialled, and delivered two Damen designed 20m tugs modified for use by the SA Navy submarines and two Damen-designed 20m tugs for general use by the SA Navy,” said DSCT director Sefale Montsi.

“We look forward to strengthening our relationships with both Armscor and the SA Navy through our operational support services, which will extend long after the handing over of the vessel.”

Since its inception, Project Biro has made significant contributions to job creation and the development of small and medium enterprises.

A total of 848 local vendors actively participated in the construction of the MMIPVs. Throughout the project, DSCT estimates that more than one million man-hours of work were generated, reinforcing regional supply chains, and creating opportunities for skilled job seekers. Over the years, this project has actively supported more than 1 000 direct jobs and employed nearly 4 000 individuals indirectly.

Project Biro has also led to the transfer of skills from international experts to local professionals.

To date, 50 apprentices who have worked on Project Biro have graduated as artisans from the DSCT Skill Development Centre. The skills that have been developed include welding, boiler making, outfitting, various electrical and automation skills, carpentry, painting, pipe fitting, plumbing, yard planning, manufacturing skills and logistic experience.

“The project has been a bridge connecting the expertise of the global maritime community with the talent and potential that exists right here in South Africa.

“It has not only strengthened DSCT’s capabilities, but has also contributed to the development of a skilled workforce in our country. As a result of this skills development and growth, DSCT can confidently say we are ready to build more ships for the South African Navy,” said Montsi.

Chief of the SA Navy, Vice-Admiral Monde Lobese, said: “Today marks the blessing of the third multi-mission inshore patrol vessel, a testament to the vision and perseverance of Project Biro. While the acquisition of offshore patrol vessels remains on hold.”

The blessing ceremony of the SA Navy’s third multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV). It was a monumental occasion as the vessel, built entirely in South Africa, was unveiled, marking a significant milestone in enhancing maritime security. The vessel has rapid response capabilities and it will be used in countering piracy, illegal fishing, and smuggling operations. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers