The South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism received tenders for the supply of four new fishery and environmental protection vessels. Thirty-two responses from 14 countries were received and, after an evaluation process, nine shipyards were identified as possible suppliers. The tender called for the supply and delivery of three inshore vessels of approximately 45 metres in length and a single, 80 metres offshore vessel. Four to six months has been allowed for the adjudication of tenders and it is anticipated that an order will be in the first quarter of 2002. Delivery of the first vessel will be in May/June 2003 and the final vessel some 12 months later.
The vessels will form part of the broader maritime community, which encompasses not only fishery and environmental protection, (their core functions), but also search and rescue, towage and fire fighting assistance, customs and immigration needs and, in the case of the offshore vessel, disaster relief operations. Care has been taken to ensure that the secondary functions do not degrade the core functions.
The inshore vessels will be designed, equipped and certified to operate anywhere within the South African EEZ - i.e. up to 200 nautical miles offshore. It is anticipated that the bulk of their work will, however, be carried out up to 50 - 80 nautical miles from the shore. They will have a range of 3500 nautical miles at 15 knots, a top speed of 25 knots and will be capable of remaining at sea for up to 14 days. Annual use will be 225 - 250 days at sea.
The offshore vessel will operate over the entire EEZ and beyond. It will have a capacity to land and refuel helicopters, but will not be equipped with a hangar. The ship will have a range of 7500 nautical miles at 15 knots and an endurance of at least 45 days. Top speed will be in excess of 20 knots. A usage level of 250 - 300 days per year is planned. Containerisation of special systems is an important design philosophy and the vessel will also have a well-equipped hospital. The vessels will all be built to commercial Classification Society Rules; will be unarmed and manned by commercial crew.