Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2009-03-30

South Africa - 5th Frigate Cancelled, OPVs Moved Up



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In February 2009, AMI received information indicating the South African Navy (SAN) has cancelled its acquisition plans for the fifth Valour class frigate from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Germany. In addition, the SAN is planning to acquire a minimum of three and as many as six off-shore patrol vessels (OPV) to improve its capability to defend the country's coastline, territorial seas and exclusive economic zone (EEZ). AMI sources indicate, the SAN favors acquiring six OPVs, however, an additional requirement for three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) may limit the OPV procurement to just three hulls. All of these vessels will probably be built at the South African Shipyard in Durban.

Following the eleven-year (1997-2007) modernization plan which culminated in the acquisition of four Valour class frigates and three Type 209 diesel-electric submarines, the SAN was expected to embark on a second naval modernization plan beginning as early as 2009 to address its deficiencies in monitoring its territorial seas and EEZ. The cancellation of the fifth Valour class frigate is likely due to effects from the global economic recession as well as the emergent requirement to combat smuggling, poaching, human trafficking, piracy and other maritime security challenges along the South African littoral as well as the African continent.
The new OPVs are expected to be capable of multi-day operations in the high sea states that are typically encountered around the Cape of Good Hope and in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Although specific design requirements are currently being considered, the OPVs are likely to be 80 to 95 meters (262.4-311.6 feet) in length with a flight deck for one light-helicopter and a medium caliber gun. Due to the historical relationship developed with Germany, the Fassmer OPV-80 or OPV-90 designs and the TKMS MEKO 100 design are probable choices for the SAN OPV. An RfP for the new OPV design is expected to be issued in 2010, with a construction contract in place by 2011 and the first unit of the class commissioning in 2013.

In regards to the IPV program, requirements call for three patrol vessels up to 45 meters (147.6 feet) in length. The IPV program will probably run in conjunction with the OPVs.
In an effort to revive the country's shipbuilding industry, the SAN is also looking to the growing export market for OPVs and patrol craft. The SAN is working to establish joint partnerships with other regional navies in the development of a core OPV design that can be built indigenously or elsewhere in Africa. While South Africa does not have the capability to construct complex multi-mission warships, the country has proven to be very capable in building fast attack craft (FAC), patrol boats, mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) and naval auxiliaries at its own shipyards. Therefore, South African shipyards should have minimal difficultly in producing an OPV with simplistic weapons and sensors *1.

Additional information on South Africa can be obtained by contacting Tony Beitinger at AMI International (Tel: + 1 360 373 2686 or E-mail: or visiting AMI's September 2008 Hot News at and the
South Africa country report at:

With acknowledgements to AMI Hot News.

*1       This should too be "simplistic".         

The South African Navy had no difficulty at all in getting a German shipyard with its French partner to produce a Valour-class frigate with simplistic weapons and sensors.

It just bent over, asked Schabir Shaik to borrow his ever handy bottle of Vaseline and said "let's do it".

So it (actually we) got a half of a R1,900 billion frigate combat suite for a full R2,599 billion (1998 Rands).


Just cut in Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Barbara Masekela, Chippy Shaik, African Defence Systems, Nkobi Holdings *2, Futuristic Business Solutions *3, the ANC Women's League, the ANC and, hey, Nelson's your uncle.

*2      Schabir Shaik, Yunis Shaik, the ANC (Floryn Investments), Pambile Gama, Jeffrey Ngobo, Workers College, Occult X (Clegton Investments), inter alia

*3      Lt Gen (Retd) Lambert Moloi, Yusuf (Comrade Joe) Mahomed), Ian Elvis Pierce, Tshepo Molai.

*2*3    Reuel Khosa and his Consolidated Network Investments (CNI) had to step aside in this instance.

The might of Nkobi with top cover *4 from JZ was just to over-powering.

*5      And maybe a little ball squeezing.