Inshore Patrol Vessels and Hydrographic Ship on Schedule
Despite the parlous state of South African finances and the economy, South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has confirmed to Parliament that funding remains available for two vital Navy acquisition programmes.
In a written answer to a question tabled by her shadow counterpart, Kobus Marais, she confirmed that sufficient funding is available for the completion of both Project BIRO (three new-build STAN PATROL 6211 patrol vessels, reduced from the original six) and Project HOTEL, which aims to replace the PROTEA hydrographic vessel. Both current projects fall under the government’s Operation PHAKISA, which is intended to substantially boost the nation’s oceans economy in the long term.
“In spite of the decline in the capital budget of the Department of Defence (DoD) which forms part of the Special Defence Account (SDA), sufficient funding is available to fund both projects BIRO and HOTEL,” her response reads in part. “Neither of the projects will be delayed as a result of insufficient funding and Armscor will not be defaulting on any contractual payments. The worsening rate of exchange of the SA Rand against the Euro and other major currencies is placing significant pressure on the available budget for both projects. The DoD has to date been able to provide sufficient funding to maintain the required budget for the projects […] Some delays on both projects have been incurred as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and the resultant inability to import critical sub-systems. Both projects are endeavouring to make up delays […] At present, Project BIRO is still expected to deliver the first vessel on time (January 2021) and a number of the contractual deliverables on Project HOTEL have been completed ahead of time.”