Durban - SHIPBUILDING history will be made in Durban on Friday when the first piece of steel will be cut for what experts say is probably the most complex and technically-advanced vessel ever to be built in the country.

The special symbolic ceremony for the South African Navy’s new hydrographic survey ship will unfold at the Southern African Shipyards (SAS) premises at Bayhead.

SAS clinched the Armscor contract to build the mega project last year, and the sophisticated ship will be built with the help of a number of sub-contractors who will integrate various systems into the ship.

The new ship, which will take about 40 months to complete, will replace the navy’s current SAS Protea, which has been in service since 1972.

Prasheen Maharaj, the chief executive of SAS, said: “We feel very privileged and honoured to be entrusted with such a large, multi-year complex project. It demonstrates a firm confidence in and commitment to South Africa’s technological and industrial expertise. In addition to the hydrographic vessel, we will also be cutting steel for an LNG (liquefied natural gas) barge for our client, DNG Energy.

“The execution of these two projects simultaneously is not only a historic milestone for the South African shipbuilding Industry, but also represents one of the largest job creation projects to start in Durban this year.”

He said more than 3 500 jobs would be created and maintained in the shipyard and the supply chain.

Daily News