Norwegian ship design and shipbuilding company Vard Marine, a subsidiary of Italy’s Fincantiere group (which holds 55.63% of the Norwegian enterprise), has confirmed that its VARD 9 105 hydrographic/oceanographic ship design is the one offered to the South African Navy (SAN) by Southern African Shipyards of Durban, to fulfil Project Hotel.
South African defence acquisition, disposals and research and development agency Armscor recently announced that Southern African Shipyards had been selected as the preferred bidder for Project Hotel, which is intended to replace the SAN’s current hydrographic survey ship, the SAS Protea, which is now 45 years old.
Should the negotiations go as hoped, the vessel will be built in Durban. Armscor requires that Project Hotel have a local content of 60%. The 9 105 design has a length of 95 m and will have a PC 7 ice-strengthened hull. That is, the ship will be able to operate during the summer and autumn in thin first-year ice, which might include old ice inclusions. The ship will have a diesel-electric power plant with a capacity of about 12.24 MW, giving a maximum speed of 18 knots (kts). It will have a range of 10 000 nautical miles and will carry a crew of 120, both sailors and scientists, with an endurance of 44 days.
“Vard Marine will be responsible to produce the basic design for the vessel and support the [Durban] shipyard during the detailed design and construction phase of the project,” stated Vard in its press release. “Final contract signing is expected in the next few months, with construction scheduled to begin in 2018.”
The Norwegian company is an internationally respected enterprise, with some 10 000 employees worldwide. It operates five shipyards in Norway, two in Romania, two in Brazil and one in Vietnam. It also develops designs that are built by other shipyards, elsewhere in the world, including in Australia, Canada, Chile, the UK and the US.
Among its recent successes are the selection of its VARD 7 110 design by the US Coast Guard for that service’s new offshore patrol cutter (to be built in the US) and the adoption of its VARD 9 090 offshore patrol vessel (OPV) design by the Irish Naval Service (three built so far, with a fourth under construction in the UK). Vard Marine was also responsible for the design of the UK Royal Navy’s two Echo-class multirole hydrographic survey ships, which were both commissioned in 2003. These are earlier iterations of the VARD 9 105 design (with, for example, a length of 90.6 m, or 4.4 m shorter than the design of the SAN ship).
Meanwhile, naval news website navaltoday.com has reported that the designs chosen for the SAN’s new OPVs and inshore patrol vessels are the Damen 1800 Sea Axe and FCS 5009 respectively. The SAN will acquire these vessels under Project Biro, and Damen Shipyards Cape Town was announced as the preferred bidder (at the same time as the Southern African Shipyards announcement was made).
The 1800 Sea Axe is 85 m in length, has a beam of 13.7 m, a crew of 46 and a maximum speed of 26 kts. The FCS 5009 is 51.25 m long, has a beam of 10.10 m and a core crew of just eight. Its maximum speed is again 26 kts. Each FCS 5009 can carry two interceptor boats, which can reach speeds in excess of 50 kts. Again, Armscor requires a local content level of 60%.