Initially, the plan had been to hold a large launching ceremony, but due to the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, SAN took the decision to do something on a smaller scale.
During the event, the vessel was blessed and a bottle of champagne was broken over the bow as is the custom. The South African flag was raised on the vessel and she was cheered by her crew.
Sam Montsi Director at DSCT said, “Despite the low-key nature of the event, this remains a momentous occasion – the blessing of the first of these three important vessels that we are building in Africa for Africa. With this taking place as the global pandemic continues, every care has been taken to ensure the well-being of everyone here today. This counts also for the day-to-day work on the project, with strict safety measures in place. Because of these measures we can continue our work on the vessels and remain on time and on budget, something in which we can all take pride.”
The MMIPVs will contribute to South Africa’s maritime security in augmenting the country’s capability to respond effectively, rapidly, and cost-efficiently to threats such as illegal trafficking and fishing.
“Today marks another milestone in the history of the SA Navy. To think where this first MMIPV might end up in history is exciting. This vessel will be crucial in search and rescue operations and a critical link in security operations. The reconfigurability of the ship makes it a force multiplier in any littoral environment for the SA Navy. What the future holds for this ship, is anyone’s guess. What I do know, without a doubt, is that the brave men and women, who took an oath to uphold the constitution and protect the freedoms we hold so dear, are the true heroes and protagonists of this story,” stated Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane during the blessing ceremony.
The 62 x 11 meter naval vessel will be the first Damen Sea Axe vessel to operate in South Africa. The Sea Axe is a Damen patented design offering exceptional seakeeping behavior. The straight-edged, axe shaped bow cuts through the water, minimising slamming for improved safety and comfort on board and significantly reduced fuel consumption and emissions.