The South African Navy (SAN) is gearing up for the largest acquisition process since the 1950's. In the age-old military tradition of re-organising in the face of a new reality, the Navy is setting up an overseas project office and establishing a second "integrated project office" at the Simon's Town Naval Dockyard, near Cape Town. The overseas project office will represent the South African navy in Germany.
Acquisition Projects: The focus of the two projects offices are primarily the acquisition of four Meko A200SAN patrol corvettes and three Type 209 1400MOD submarines from the German Frigate and Submarine Consortiums respectively. The SAN believes the first corvette will arrive at Simon's Town (their likely home port) in late 2002, followed by a further two platforms the next year and the last vessel in 2004. On their arrival, each ship will be fitted and integrated with a locally developed and manufactured combat suite (produced by Thompson CSF) and will undergo extensive testing. The first corvette is scheduled to become operational in mid-2004 with the last vessel achieving operational status in mid-2005.
In the case of the submarines, each submarine will be crewed by fully trained Navy personnel and undergo sea acceptance prior to leaving Germany. The first submarine will arrive in the second quarter of 2005, followed by the second and third platforms in early 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Upgrade Projects: The update of the Warrior Class Fast Attack Craft is reported to be progressing well. The project aims to keep six of the eight craft in service to train personnel for the new corvettes. Two ships have been updated and are deployed as part of the operational fleet. The next two ships are apparently nearing the completion of their conversions and are due to commence sea trials in the second quarter of this year. The fifth ship is due for completion early next year and the upgrade of the last ship is planned to commence in January and end in the latter half of 2002. The modernisations are being carried out at the craft's home base at Salisbury Island, Durban.
The life extension of the Spear-class (Daphne) submarines is also in its final phase. A production combat suite is currently being installed in SAS UMKHONTO in preparation for sea acceptance trials. A second system will be installed in SAS ASSEGAAI during the course of the year. The suites were manufactured and built by African Defence Systems (ADS), a 100% subsidiary of Thomson CSF. The Navy says the project will ensure the availability of seagoing submarines in order to train personnel who can later be sent to Germany for conversion training to crew the new submarines.
The combat support ship SAS OUTENIQUA is also being modernised. Upgrades include improving certain systems and services, expanding and improving accommodation, helicopter handling facilities and the provision of logistic support. The final work will be carried out during the ship's refit this year.
More Information:Defense Systems Daily