Local is lekker in the ship-building world‚ thanks to a R10bn naval procurement package destined for South African shipyards. This was the message from two of the country’s top ship-building bosses tasked with building six new patrol vessels — three inshore‚ three offshore — and a hydrographic survey ship. Cape Town-based Damen (the patrol vessels) and Durban-based Southern African Shipyards (the hydrographic vessel) have been confirmed as preferred bidders for Projects Biro and Hotel‚ collectively the biggest defence procurement package since the now infamous "arms deal". But unlike the navy’s four frigates procured nearly 20 years ago at a cost of about R7bn‚ the patrol vessels are generally considered a better deal in that they are more suited to SA’s coastal needs. They will also be constructed in local shipyards‚ providing a much-needed boost to the ailing local industry. Sam Montsi‚ shareholder and chairman of Damen Shipyards Cape Town‚ said the new vessels were good news, bot...

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