The first new Multi-Mission Coastal Patrol Vessel (MMIPV) flies the fleet flag as it undergoes operational testing and evaluation, but it will be months before number two – SAS Adam Kok (P1572) – does be delivered to the SA Navy (SAN).

Indications that the embryonic SAN Patrol Squadron’s second new hull would be handed over to the SAN this year have been dispelled by Armscor, the SA National Defense Force (SANDF) acquisition agency that handles management of the project, among other tasks. Managing Director Solomzi Mbada, writing in Armscor’s latest newsletter, said “construction of the two remaining vessels under Project Biro is underway with delivery scheduled for April 2023 and April 2024 respectively.” .

Armscor said in February that Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) was contracted in January 2018 to deliver three Biro ships, with the first (P1571) due to be handed over to the Navy in March this year, followed by P1572 in June 2023 and the P1573 in September. 2024. Deliveries were originally scheduled to start from mid-2021 – the first keel was laid in February 2019 and the second in September 2020.

P1571, SAS Sekhukhune, was handed over to the SA Navy on 18 May. At the time of the handover, the delivery of the second vessel was reported as scheduled for September 2022, but this will not be the case.

Mbada said the overall shipbuilding contract awarded to Damen Shipyards Cape Town “demonstrates Armscor’s ability to provide the SANDF with the state-of-the-art defense equipment needed to keep South Africa safe and secure. its citizens and of the continent as a whole”.

In February, it was reported that MMIPV number two had achieved 75% hull construction completion with 33 of 46 major equipment factory acceptance tests also completed. At that time, Armscor noted that the original delivery dates had been changed to accommodate delays due to COVID-19 and a SAN request to conduct final crew training at the facility. contractor rather than at Navy facilities as originally contracted.

Armscor “expects” the second and third ships to be delivered ahead of the revised schedule. “The risk of further delays is considered low and is not anticipated,” the defense and security acquisition agency said, adding that sufficient funding was available to complete the project.

Hull number three is called SAS King Shaka and will carry pennant number P1573 continuing the Warrior class. Its delivery date, according to Mbada, is April 2024, rather than September 2024 as previously expected.

As far as we can tell, Sekhukhune is still undergoing operational testing and evaluation before its first mission deployment. It will cost around R80 million per year to operate and maintain the three MMIPVs.

The Biro project involved six coastal patrol boats and six offshore patrol boats, but due to budgetary constraints the SAN had to make do with three coastal patrol boats. An appraisal review to exercise an option for a fourth MMIPV has been completed with formal approval not yet received.

All three MMIPVs are DSCT Stan Patrol 6211 design platforms. The 62m long, 750 ton vessels have an economical speed of 20 knots and a range of 2,000 nautical miles. In addition to a 9 and 7 m RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) for boarding operations, each vessel is equipped with a Reutech 20mm Super Sea Rogue marine cannon and a Reutech FORT (Frequency Modulated Optical Radar) optronic radar. Tracker) Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) tracking system.