Cape Town yard delivers on schedule despite Covid-19 disruption
South Africa’s new state-of-the-art inshore patrol vessels will help protect our coast, but on land they are lifesavers too – bolstering the country’s marine manufacturing sector at a time of stiff economic headwinds.
So says Damen Shipyards Cape Town board chairman Sam Montsi, who spoke to SABBEX about the recent launch of the first of three inshore patrol vessels that make up a multi-billion navy procurement project under Project Biro. The first vessel, the SAS Sekhukhune 1, was officially handed over to the navy in June at a ceremony. The trio of 62m x 11m vessels were specifically designed to offer the navy a rapid response capability. The first was delivered on time and within budget – a staggering feat in the context of defence procurement deals. Said Montsi: “What we are really very proud of is that not only did we deliver with the agreed timelines, broadly speaking it was within the agreed budgets.”
Montsi also highlighted the additional value attached to the project in the form of a major boost for the entire marine manufacturing ecosystem. On the back of the Project Damen SA was able to motivate for other South African stakeholders to pitch for work opportunities within the Damen Group – one of the world’s biggest privately-owned shipbuilders. “We went to them (Group management) and said we want opportunities for South African companies in other projects outside of South Africa. We told them they would find that some of them (the SA companies) will be tops in terms of quality, price and delivery capacity. And the Group agreed. In the process we have facilitated business access for South African companies,” Montsi said.
This additional value to the South African business sector was in addition to the company’s project obligations to the so-called Defence Industry Participation Programme, which sets targets for local business participation in any contract.
Examples of South African businesses to benefit from Damen’s global footprint included a Stellenbosch company involved with refrigeration which now was “able to do other business within the Damen Group,” Montsi said. Another SA company was supplying products to Djibouti, and yet another had been sub-contracted to deliver services related to the refurbishment of a navy dockyard in Kenya. “We have gone beyond the call of our contract to facilitate incredible business for SA companies,” Montsi said. “And this will continue beyond Project Biro.”