Navy Project Could Help SA Shipbuilding
 
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Navy Project Could Help SA Shipbuilding

      5/25/2005

Navy Project Could Help SA Shipbuilding

The South African Navy (SAN) hopes that the next class of ships it orders will be built in South Africa and that these vessels could form the basis for an export industry. “We are looking at the concept of a ‘multipurpose hull’, that is a standard hull and propulsion combination that can be adapted for different missions,” explains SAN maritime plans director Rear-Admiral Bernhard Teuteberg. “We need a balanced force, not just our new corvettes and submarines,” he points out. This means a force of coastal and offshore vessels, for routine or home waters duties, as well as the big ocean-going ships and submarines.

According to the Rear-Admiral, the industry needs sustainability – if the SAN, in conjunction with commercial enterprises, develops multipurpose hulls that not only meet our needs but also the needs of African navies, and are within their budgets, then we can seek exports and thereby create sustainability. Further, South Africa could later gain from refit, repair and modernisation work on these vessels. It is likely that series production of the planned ships will not start until early in the next decade but it brings the question of the replacement of navy’s 33 years old hydrographic survey ship the SAS Protea. The Protea replacement project needs to start in 12 to 24 months. If it is decided that its replacement will be a multipurpose hull – then it will be possible to learn from its design, construction and operation, and this would offer the basis to take the concept into the next decade. It is the scale of the programme that makes the idea of local construction feasible – the SAN alone will require about ten such ships. This could create a decade of work in South Africa. And, if just ten more are exported, production could stretch to 20 years. However, issues of financing packages to support such exports will also have to be dealt with by the South African government to make this dream a reality.


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