Navy to splash out on six new vessels

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

The SA Navy plans to buy six new patrol vessels to combat piracy and poaching in African waters.

Navy chief Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu told Parliament yesterday that the navy would urge next week's meeting of navy chiefs from across Africa to devise a plan to fight crime and piracy at sea.

"About 95percent of the world trade is conducted at sea and an increase in piracy forces ships to take different routes, and costs will increase," said Mudimu.

The navy plans to buy six offshore and inshore patrol vessels to stamp out piracy, human trafficking, smuggling and poaching, he said.

Each inshore patrol vessel will cost about R100million.

Rear Admiral Rusty Higgs said "the offshore ships would be a lot more expensive".

Higgs said the first vessel would be in the waters in 2012.

Under the controversial R65billion 1999 arms deal, the government bought four corvettes from German firm Thyssen.

These heavy warships were criticised after it emerged that they cost about R8,2million a day to operate, and were too expensive to be used against poaching and maritime crime.