South Africa’s patrol and research vessels are back in the news this week with the signing of a contract between the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Damen Shipyards Cape Town for “emergency and urgent vessel repairs and maintenance.”
When questioned about the condition of the vessels, Gary Atkins, service and repairs manager at Damen, said that the ships were not damaged as such, but were merely suffering from a general lack of maintenance which has led to them “going out of class.”
The vessels need to meet the sea-worthy requirements of the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the ship’s insurers. The repairs will take place at Simon’s Town naval dockyard, using Damen staff and equipment only at an estimated cost of R5 million.
Now that Damen is on board, let us hope that these vessels can be repaired quickly and finally get back to the job that they are supposed to be doing: patrol and research.