Another Maritime Security Conversion

Hot on the heels of the US armed forces conversion of the M/V Cragside is a story that is lower profile but equally interesting.

DAFF Ruth First
DAFF Ruth First

From website

Maritime solutions company Nautic South Africa has been contracted by the South African navy to convert six vessels owned by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) into patrolling vessels that comply with flag, class and SAMSA requirements.

The vessels will be used to patrol South African waters to tackle piracy, drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, and oil pollution.

The South African defence website Defenceweb has some good information on the DAFF fleet

Navy puts DAFF’s Africana to sea 2012

DAFF fleet to be operational in October 2012

SA Navy may extend management of state-owned maritime patrol vessels 2012


Nautic South Africa also sell a range of fast patrol craft

Nautic Africa introduces the Sentinel!

Naval forces with tasks but not a lot of money seem more than capable of improvising

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February 23, 2014 5:41 pm

There are some new ship but a lot of the South African fleet is very old built in the 1970s.

February 23, 2014 6:57 pm

The top picture looks like a Damen design 42 meter patrol
boat. much like the USCG’s 47 meter Fast Response Cutter.

February 23, 2014 9:20 pm

Splendid stuff. Maybe we can persuade HM Coastguard, Customs and the Home Office to ‘improvise’ something like this and thus start doing their job? Or should the RN keep doing it for them?

Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
February 23, 2014 11:52 pm

In among the comments on, there is a link to this short history of the South African Navy, its forbears, and its future from the US Naval War College Review. Worth a look.

February 24, 2014 4:41 am

Maybe South Africa should look at buying the same design the US Coast Guard has, which is the Fast response cutter. Maybe arm them to the US Coast Guard Standard

Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
February 24, 2014 5:28 pm

@Nicky: South African MAFF (now there’s a name that may bring back not-so-fond memories) already has three Damen 4708s, launched back in 2004-5. It’s all in the links TD provided.

February 27, 2014 8:07 am

I’m ex-South African Navy and the story of the DAFF patrol fleet over the last few years is a complete joke.

The DAFF operate four fisheries patrol vessels – one 83m offshore patrol vessel (heli pad, no hanger) and three IPV’s (47m). All were built by Damen in Romania in the mid-2000’s.

The DAFF doesn’t have its own crews, so these vessels were crewed and maintained by Smit Amandla Marine under contract for something like 5 years and operated fairly successfully, but when Smit Amandla’s contract was extended (in about 2010) the contract ended up in court as it was said that a proper tender process hadn’t been followed. From then on everything became a complete mess and for the last four years these vessels haven’t been to sea for more than a few weeks (mostly for photo opportunities as, every time they do sail, there seems to be a press release).

At one point, the contract to operate them was awarded to a company called Sekunjalo. Sekunjalo has a nice cosy relationship with government and also – there’s convenience for you – operates a fishing company. So Sekunjalo would be both poacher and game keeper. Classy.

Out of frustration, the four patrol vessels were summarily handed over to the Navy. Not much thought or warning seemed to go into it – the four vessels just sailed into Simon’s Town (judging by the reaction of the Navy). Now the SA Navy are on the lookout for a new class of OPV and IPV for themselves so you would think this a good deal – the Navy would take over the DAFF vessels and run them on behalf of DAFF. Wrong. The SAN have a somewhat inflated view of their own importance and didn’t want to get their hands dirty with fisheries patrols… or maybe these four tubs aren’t grey enough or sleek enough or don’t have enough guns to shoot at no-one. So they sucked their teeth and said that the DAFF hadn’t maintained their ships and it would take a lot of time to fix them and then to get them out of their merchant navy class, to re-class them according to naval standards, commission them into the Navy and so-on. So for a year they showed off a bit and these vessels did not do a single fisheries patrol.Maybe one of the small ones went for a spin to take some photos. But they basically lay alongside in Simon’s Town.

After a year, the DAFF must have concluded that the Navy is too useless to do anything with them, so they contracted Nautic Africa and Damen (the builders) to get them back to sea. Which they seem to have done in pretty short order. After all, it’s not rocket science. If a big Navy shipyard like Simon’s Town can’t get four simple patrol vessels to sea for a year, who can, right?