09 September 2011 by defenceWeb
French shipbuilder DCNS and South African maritime organisation KND have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the promotion, construction and sale of Gowind offshore patrol vessels in South Africa.
The purpose of the agreement is to win new offshore patrol vessel (OPV) contracts, first in South Africa, and then in other sub-Saharan countries.
"We are very happy with the partnership agreement and are very positive that the DCNS OPV is the most suitable solution for Naval applications within Africa," said James Fisher, CEO of KND.
"This MoU reflects DCNS's commitment to long-term partnership with KND in order to meet the requirements of the South African Navy as closely as possible," said Pierre Legros, SVP Surface Ships & Naval Systems, DCNS.
DCNS has long held an interested in South Africa – in September 2008 it launched the Gowind design in South Africa rather than wait for the Euronavale exhibition in Paris later in October.
Following visits by DCNS and KND to each other's facilities, the two naval shipbuilders quickly recognised the major benefits of forming a partnership. DCNS is trying hard to get into the South African market by offering the Gowind for the SA Navy’s multipurpose offshore patrol vessel (MM OPV, Project Biro) and strategic support ship (SSS, Project Millennium) requirements.
Construction of the first-of-class Gowind OPV, L'Adroit, began in France in May last year. The vessel is scheduled for handover to the French navy before the end of the year for operational trials. A three-year operational loan will enable the French Navy to grant the design the “sea proven” and “operations qualified” seals of approval, thereby giving DCNS two key arguments when promoting the Gowind family on the international market.
L'Adroit has a length of 285.4 feet (86 metres), an at-sea endurance of three weeks and a range of 8,000 nautical miles. Its top speed is 21 knots. The vessel has a helicopter flight deck and can accommodate unmanned aerial vehicle operations.
DCNS first announced the Gowind family of corvettes in 2006. Since then, DCNS has enlarged the family to include four corvettes with lengths from 85 to 105 metres and displacements from 1 000 to 2 500 tons.
The Gowind corvettes are designed for a variety of different missions, including anti-piracy, sea control and denial, combat, counter-terrorism, drug interdiction and anti-smuggling operations, oil and gas platform protection, search and rescue, fisheries protection, environmental protection and humanitarian support.
A variety of weapons can be carried depending on the customer country's mission requirements. The weapon systems include: water cannons, 12.7mm remotely controlled machine guns, a 20mm cannon, 76mm naval gun on the forward gun deck, anti-ship missiles, ship self-defence system and electronic warfare suite.
KND comprises of two companies, a naval architectural and design company and a shipbuilding company. The shipbuilding arm, known as Nautic Africa, operates industrial facilities at the Simon’s Town naval dockyard, near Cape Town. The company is currently building six fast patrol boats for a West African nation.
Project Biro was initiated to rejuvenate the SA Navy’s patrol capability, now vested in three Warrior-class offshore patrol vessels, three River-class minehunters and three T-class inshore patrol vessels (IPVs).
In late July Jane’s announced that the SA Navy issued a request for information (RfI) for both offshore and inshore patrol vessels to be acquired under Project Biro to replace the remaining strike craft and minehunters acquired in the 1970s and 1980s. They will complement the SAN's four MEKO A200 frigates.
JDW correspondent and defence analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman says the RfI is intended as a market scan to give the SAN “a clear idea of what is on the market.”