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Damen Cape Town lays keel for second South African Navy patrol vessel

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Most guests attended keel laying remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions

Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) held a keel-laying ceremony August 28 for the second of three 62- by 11-meter Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessels (MMIPV) it is building for the South African Navy’s Project BIRO. Because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, stringent safety protocols were in place. Physical attendance was reduced to a minimum, with the majority of guests attending remotely with digital conference facilities.

The South African Navy’s Project BIRO aims to ensure the country’s capabilities to respond effectively, rapidly, and cost-efficiently to maritime threats such as piracy and illegal fishing.

The MMIPVs draw on proven technology from Damen’s standardized range of patrol boats, which range from 10-meter interceptors and 50-meter patrol vessels, to 140-meter frigates.

The vessels for Project BIRO are tailored to the specific requirements of the South African Navy and feature the Damen Sea Ax Bow – a vertical hull form that reduces slamming for safe, comfortable operations in rough seas. The MMIPVs are the first Sea Ax vessels to operate in South Africa.

The shipbuilder says the project is an example of Damen Maritime Security Solutions in action. With this initiative, Damen not only delivers a ship, but rather 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.

The project is being built within the framework of several South African government programs, including local content and employment mandates and Damen says it is looking to over-achieve on their requirements. For example, Damen will exceed Project BIRO’s 60% local content requirements, issuing contracts to a large number of local suppliers. As a result of their work on Project BIRO, many of these suppliers are now earmarked for work on Damen projects in and outside of South Africa. Additionally, DSCT’s undertaking of the project has created over 300 direct jobs and over 1,000 indirect jobs in line with the South African Government’s Operation Phakisa objectives.

Damen’s Project Director for the MMIPV projects, Jos Govaarts, commented, “It’s not only our objective to build three IPVs. We, as DSCT, feel it is our responsibility to create jobs and to develop our suppliers. We have the commitment to make sure that the South African maritime industry fully benefits from South African projects for the long-term. The jobs that we are creating are there to stay.”

DSCT is making good progress with the first Project BIRO IPV, which it expects to deliver in 2021.
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