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Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) has held a keel-laying ceremony for the second of three Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessels (MMIPV) that DSCT is building for the South African Navy’s Project BIRO. This unique event was held on 28th August and planned to ensure the well-being of delegates during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As well as stringent safety measures on location, physical attendance was reduced to a minimum, with the majority attending remotely with digital conference facilities.

The South African Navy’s Project BIRO aims to develop maritime security, ensuring the country’s capabilities to respond effectively, rapidly, and cost-efficiently to maritime threats such as piracy and illegal fishing. The MMIPVs draw on proven technology from Damen’s standardised range of patrol boats, which covers everything from 10-metre interceptors and 50-metre patrol vessels, to 140-metre frigates. The vessels for Project BIRO are tailored to the specific requirements of the South African Navy and feature the Damen Sea Axe Bow – a vertical hull form that reduces slamming for safe, comfortable operations in rough seas. The MMIPVs are the first Sea Axe vessels to operate in South Africa.

Total Solution

The project undertaking serves as a demonstration of Damen Maritime Security Solutions in action where the company not only delivers a ship, but rather a total maritime solution, encompassing every aspect of vessel operation throughout the lifecycle as well as the contribution to a sustainable maritime industry in the region where it operates.

To that end, Damen has truly and enthusiastically embraced, adopted and integrated the various applicable government programmes, such as the Defence Industrial Participation (DIP), Department of Trade and Industry’s Local Content and Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) and Youth Employment Service (YES Initiative) into its project approach, looking to over-achieve on the requirements of these programmes. For example, Damen will exceed Project BIRO’s 60% local content requirements, contracting a large number of local suppliers who as a result are now earmarked for work on Damen projects in and outside of South Africa. Additionally, DSCT’s undertaking of the project has created over 300 direct jobs and over 1,000 indirect jobs in line with the South African Government’s Operation Phakisa objectives.


After the speeches, the tradition of welding a coin to the keel was carried out by Jenny-Lee Fortuin (2nd Year Apprentice: Welder) of DSCT’s Apprentice Training Centre, an institution established by the yard in order to bridge a skills gap in South Africa and provide employment opportunities to local learners. The minted coin being laid on this occasion was a commemorative medal that was made in the honour of the late Honourable President Mandela as the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Peace. The obverse of the coin was designed by British Artist Avril Vaughan and the reverse was designed by artist Danuta Haremska. DSCT is making good progress with the first Project BIRO IPV, which it expects to deliver in 2021.