PHOTO CREDIT: JANE’S
CAPE TOWN – Local shipbuilding and
maritime solutions company Nautic
Africa has begun building seven 35-
metre patrol vessels for West African
clients. The vessels, whose combined
contract value is over R600m (US$60m), are the first in their class to be designed and built in South Africa.
Nautic Africa has already laid keels on
two of the vessels, with three to
follow this month. It expects to make
its first deliveries next year and to
complete the contract early in 2015.
The orders resulted from the
company’s collaboration with West
African navies, as well as oil and gas
companies, to develop an effective
way of counteracting illegal fishing,
piracy and other illicit offshore activities.
“Piracy in the region is a bigger
problem than it is on the East Africa
coast,” says Nautic Africa CEO James
Fisher. “What set us apart was our
willingness to develop a bespoke
solution for our clients.” The vessels were custom-designed to cope with
the challenging security issues in the
Gulf of Guinea.
Nautic Africa’s in-house design team collaborated with a Cape Town-based naval architect to develop the vessels which are light and fast, and have the capability of larger, more expensive vessels. All come equipped with a ballistic protection system, satellite tracking and marine navigation equipment.
The 35m vessels, dubbed Sentinels are also equipped with two lightweight ‘interceptor’ vessels called Guardians.
“The majority of territorial water offshore threats are from largely
indistinguishable craft less than 12
metres in length,” said Fisher. “The
FDIs, which are deployable in minutes, enhance the patrol effectiveness of offshore assets and enable personnel to communicate with small fishing boats and/or make arrests at sea level. This makes policing safer and more effective”
CEO James Fisher says the company will
now also firm up its plans to establish a
second “life-cycle and support” facility in
the Gulf of Guinea at Port Harcourt in
The aluminium patrol boats will have
South African developed ‘Super Shield’ composite armour protection for their wheelhouses and a full-load displacement of 175 tonnes, a beam
of 7.5 m and a draught of 1.4 m.
Powered by three 1,193 kW Caterpillar C32 ACERT engines driving three shafts, they have a maximum speed of 28 kts, a range of 2,130 km at their normal cruising speed of 20 kts and 7,590 km when speed is reduced to 10 kts for extended patrols. Electrical power is provided by two Caterpillar C4.4 107 kVA generators.
The vessels have a crew of six in
standard configuration, with
accommodation for up to 12 passengers or additional personnel, and are designed to carry up to two of Nautic’s BR850-TPD Guardian interceptors for boarding work. These are launched using a single-point system.
The Guardian is an 8.5 m aluminium craft with 2.8 m beam and 60 cm draught and a full load displacement of 3.8 tonnes. The shallow draft combines with a 373 kW diesel with a tunnel propeller drive to allow operations close to the shore and in river deltas.
They have a maximum speed of 42 kts with a range of 295 km at that speed, or a 700 km range at 20 kts for inshore patrol or similar tasks.They are designed for a crew of two with space for a six-strong boarding party, and can be fitted with shock-mitigating seats if intended for high-speed intercept missions. Their
systems include a GPS/chart plotter
and a 2 kW 4G broadband radar.
PREVIOUS NIGERIAN DEALS FOR SMALLER NAUTIC AFRICA CRAFT
Here are SEVEN compelling reasons why these vessels are almost certain to be mostly destined for Nigerian naval service
– the allusion to previous work done for navies and oil firms (crew boats)
– the mention of PIRACY for which Nigeria is one of the Top 2 hotspots on the planet
– the reference to river deltas and oil operations (where else in the Gulf of Guinea but the Niger Delta as of now)
– the reference to ‘boarding work’..mainstay activity of the Nigerian Navy and its Special Boat Service
– The unstated ‘defence protocol’ signed between Nigeria and South Africa during President Jonathan’s state visit to South Africa in May 2013
– the follow-up visit by the Nigerian Chief of the Naval Staff in June 2013 during which he toured South African shipyards, a visit which coincided with the time when the keels were laid down.
– the imminent construction of a Vessel Support and Maintenance Facility in the Niger Delta, the oil and piracy hotspot in West Africa
So Nigerians, look to the horizon. More little, new ships coming your way, following swiftly on the heels of the commissioning of five new OCEA/Shaldag Fast Patrol Craft in February 2013.
A 31 metre Andoni-class patrol craft, another Shaldag FPC (the sixth unit acquired) and a 32 metre OCEA FPB 72 Mk.II patrol craft (paid for by the Nigerian Ports Authority) are also slated for delivery to the Nigerian Navy in the next 4-10 months.
Additionally, the first of two Chinese-built 95 metre, 1800 ton P18N stealth Offshore Patrol Vessels is scheduled for delivery in 2014.