Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) has laid the keel for the second of three Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessels (MMIPV) under construction for Project BIRO of the South African Navy.  

Project BIRO aims to develop maritime security and ensure that the country can respond effectively, quickly and cost-effectively to piracy and illegal fishing among other maritime threats. 

In 2018, DSCT secured an order for the delivery of three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) as part of Project Biro. 

The MMIPV is based on the technology of Damen’s standardised range of patrol boats, which includes a 10m interceptor, 50m patrol vessels and 140m frigates.

Project BIRO boats are custom-made to meet the specific needs of the South African Navy. They are equipped with a Damen Sea Axes Bow, which is a vertical hull shape to reduce slamming and ensure safe and comfortable operation.  

These will be the first Sea Axe vessels to carry out operations in South Africa. 

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Navy chief vice admiral Hlongwane said: “A well-managed maritime sector is key to the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.  

“Fighting Covid-19 poses new dilemmas for South Africa in addition to the existing challenges of policing one of the largest maritime zones in Africa.  

“South Africa must also fulfil numerous international safety responsibilities, any reduction in South Africa’s supply chain efficiency could wreak economic havoc on the country and its neighbours.  

“I would like to say well done and congratulations to all staff involved in the production of the MMIPVs here at DSCT for being able to maintain the construction schedule to this extent under very challenging circumstances.”

DSCT expects to deliver the first IPV for the South African Navy next year.