Jun 10, 2011

Future of the South-African Navy

A full modernisation and toward some more VERSATILE warships...


Coastlines: +/- 2,798 kilometers (1,739 mi), a EEZ of 1 535 538 km2.

Personnal Strenght
5500+ (+ 2000 civilian and 800 reserve).

4 Frigates
4 Valour
(Amatola, Isandlwana, Spioenkop, Mendi). 3700 tons, 121 meters (German Meko A-200 SAN design). Commissioned by 2006/2007, with probable +/- 30 year of service expected, to be retired around mid 2030’s.

3 Submarines (maybe too ambitious...)
3 Heroine
(Manthatisi, Charlotte Maxeke, Queen Modjadji-I). 1400+ tons, 62 meters (German Type 209/1400 SSK design). Commissioned by 2005/2008.

2 Fast Attack Missiles Crafts (toward 0)
(Galeshewe, Makhanda). 400+ tons, 58 meters (Israeli Sa’ar design). Commissioned by 1983/1986. With probable +/- 30 year of life, to be retired by 2015/2020 and replaced by 3 newer OPV.

Up to 3 OPV (EEZ usefull)
Up to 3 newer OPV (Project Biro ?)

Replacement for remaining FAC crafts. Estimated to be around 80/85 meters, capable of carrying a helicopter (although it is unknown if it will be able to house one as well) and AUV. Likely armed with a 76mm gun & MG's, but no missiles are planned ?. To be built during 2010's

Up to 9 ? Mid Shore Patrol Vessels/Mine-Hunters
6 to 9 newer MPV ? (Project Biro ?)
Likely expected to replace the T-Crafts and ageing MCM crafts. Estimated to be 53/55 meters, maybe armed with a 30mm gun & MG's, but apparently no missiles planned on board ? Able to use "Mapantsula" UUV program system. These ships will be built in South-Africa. To run in conjunction with Project Hotel.

+/- 27 Inshore Patrol Vessels (toward fewer & bigger crafts...)
3 T class

(Tobie, Tern, Tekwane). 23/36 tons, 22 meters. Commissioned by 1992/1996 or 2003 ? and expected to be replaced during 2010's by larger crafts (Project Biro).

Up to 15 newer IPV (project Xena ?)
A new class of 15 10.3m patrol boats planned, to replace the ageing "Namacurra" IPV.

+/- 24 Namacurra
(numbered between Y-1502/1530),
4/5 tons, 9+ meters. Built by 1980/1981, to be replaced during 2010's by fewer & larger crafts.

+/- 8 Mineweespers
4 City
(Kapa, Thekwini, Tshwane, Mangaung). (Ex German Type 351 coastal mineweesper built by 1958/1959). Transferred by 2001, status uncertain ?

4 Rivers
(Umzimkulu, Umhloti, Umgeni, Umkomaas). 380 tons, 48 meters (German design). Commissioned by 1981, with probable 30+ year of life expected, to be replaced during 2010's ?

All these 8 coastal MCM ships will be replaced by multi-roles Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels during 2010's...

Up to 3 ? Large Amphibious Ships (only 1 or 2 ship more likely...)
Uo to 3 newer LPD/LPH (Project Millennium ?)
One to three multi-mission "strategic support ship", to be used for sealift, command and control, medical evacuation and humanitarian assistance and search and rescue. 200m LPD/LPH vessels contemplated. Likely acquisition cost based on a similar French design. Estimated €340 million per ship.

6 Medium/Small Amphibious Crafts
6 Lima (LCP)
(L-29/34). 4+ tons, 9+ meters. Commissioned by 2003.

1 Fleet Tanker
1 Drakensberg
(Drakensberg). 6000/12000 tons, 147 meters. Commissioned by 1987, likely to remain in service until early 2020’s and replaced by 1 or 2 ? newer "Combat Support Vessel".

1 Hydrographic Ship (toward a full renewal)
Up to 1 newer ship (project "Hotel")
To replace the ageing “Protea” (and was expected to have a secondary OPV role...). This newer ship was expected to be similar to the project Biro OPV ship.

1 Hecla
(Protea). 1900 tons, 79+ meters, built by 1972. Ageing ship, to be replaced during 2010’s by 1 Hydrographic/Survey ship (under the Project Hotel)

Up to 6 Tugs
De Noorde Umalusi
(Umalusi). 315/490 tons, 30 meters. Built by 1995, transferred by 1997.

De Mist
(De Mist). 275 tons, 34+ meters. Commissioned by 1978.

De Neys
(De Neys), 180 tons, 28 meters. Commissioned by 1969, uncertain status ?

3 Coastal Tugs
(DL-2, 4, 5). DL-2 built by 1940, DL-4 built by 1973 and DL-5 built during 1960’s. Uncertain data ?

Naval Aviation
- 4 Super Lynx 300 Mk 64 (ASW).
- Up to 8 SA 330E Oryx (Transport). Maybe only 1 serviceable ?

- Up to 5 DC-3 AMI (uncertain status ?)

The South African Navy is the most powerful of the “southern three-quarters” of the continent. Large purchases in the early 2000's (4 frigates/3 submarines, purchase pushed by corrupt politicians of the time) seems to be very too ambitious for the navy (lack of skilled personnel, inability to find enough sailors for 3 SSK's...). The main threats to the South African Navy is obviously not the VERY small “Namibian” or “Mozambiqueses” navies ....... but pirates, smuggling and many internal problems of South-Africa (corruption, ethnic-violence, poverty.. .).

Next fleet review/editorial: Future of the Venezuela Navy

As usual, It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistakes ?, especially for the auxiliary and smaller ships), then SAID IT ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !

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