Publication: SA Shipping News Issued: Date: 2003-11-01 Reporter:

GFC Lauds Corvette's Innovative Design



SA Shipping News

Date November 2003

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The MEKO 200A SAN patrol corvettes are generations away from what the South African Navy currently has and are at the cutting edge of naval technology."

This is according to a spokesman for the German Frigate Consortium (GFC) who told SA Shipping News that the design of the corvette was extraordinarily innovative.

The ship's superior radar and infrared signature management allows it to avoid detection. Its stealth design and the fact that it has no windows except on the bridge mean that on any other vessel's radar screen it will often appear to be no bigger than a fishing vessel, and would only be identified as a corvette when it is within visual range.

Secondly, it is the first ship of its kind without a funnel. Exhausts are emitted at the waterline. It also has an innovative cooling system which reduces the exhaust temperature from around 500 degrees Celsius to less than 100 degrees Celsius, so heat sensitive equipment would struggle to find it.

Thirdly, it is the first naval vessel to have a water jet driven by a gas turbine, complementing the two diesel engines, propellers and drive shafts. This gives it a very high top speed and the gearing system allows for a combination or de-selection of any of the propulsion systems which means that it can be operated extremely economically - on a single diesel engine, or both, or with the gas turbine propulsion if it needs to go fast.

Coupled to this is the crash stop feature which allows the 350Ot vessel to come to a full stop in just 298 metres, providing extreme manoeuverability, for example when in hot pursuit of trawlers fishing illegally in South African waters.

The corvettes are multi-purpose vessels and some South African innovations include the anchorings on the deck for two 20 foot shipping containers in the event the vessel is used for disaster relief or peace keeping missions. There is also a crane aboard to lift cargo and a sick bay with a full operating facility. A helicopter landing deck and hangar will accommodate a new maritime helicopter and a special grappling mechanism will allow a helicopter to land in up to sea state 6.

The spokesman said that the lead yard in the German Frigate Consortium, Blohm + Voss, is an extremely experienced naval shipbuilder staffed by highly capable and skilled people. There had only been one hiccup during construction when earlier this year it was found that some electrical cabling could be defective long term.

"The SA Navy said they wanted German quality and the GFC said they only make top quality. The cabling was replaced," the spokesman said.

All four corvettes are on schedule for delivery.

With acknowledgement to the Shipping News.