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Damen delivers first of four OPVs to Tunisian Navy

Warship Technology: May 2018Damen

Damen Shipyards in The Netherlands has delivered its first Multi Service Offshore Patrol Vessel 1400 (MSOPV 1400), a ‘second generation’ offshore patrol vessel, to the Tunisian Navy.


The vessel, which has a Sea Axe hullform designed to enhance seakeeping, was Jugurtha (P610) and arrived in Tunisia in early March 2018.


The Sea Axe hullform was developed to provide superior seakeeping including low heave accelerations. This makes the vessel very comfortable, even in adverse weather conditions. Since the hull is designed to have reduced resistance, the new OPVs are also very fuel efficient.


The Sea Axe makes use of Damen’s ‘super-slender’ hull shape, a hullform that the company developed in the search for improved seakeeping characteristics for high-speed vessels. It has since been applied on several commercial and offshore units.


In developing the Sea Axe design the company was seeking a hullform that could maintain high speeds in strong winds and heavy seas and provide those on board with a high level of comfort. Derived from Damen’s ‘Enlarged Ship Concept’, on which several highly successful Stan Patrol vessels are based, the Sea Axe took Damen’s design philosophy even further, significantly reducing resistance, fuel consumption and emissions.


The Tunisian Navy has four of these OPVs on order with Damen, which is building them at its Galati shipyard in Romania. Their estimated cost is thought to be around US$50 million apiece. There are unconfirmed reports from Romania that the OPVs may have been funded by The Netherlands or the European Union.


The ships are being built in pairs in Galati, where a number of OPVs for customers in the Middle East have also been built.


Key project milestones for the lead pair of vessels, Jugurtha and Syphax (with pennant number P 611) include steel cutting on 13 December 2016 and keel-laying on 7 March 2017, although it is unclear when the ships were launched.


By February 2018 the lead ship had commenced sea trials. Syphax commenced sea trials in the Black Sea in late March 2018. From these timelines, Damen is clearly able to build these OPVs within a very short build period of around 14-15 months.


The next pair of OPVs – Hannon (with pennant P612) and Sophonisbe (with pennant P613) – are slated for delivery later this year or by early 2019.


Although Damen has declined to comment on the programme, the 1,470tonne OPVs have a length of around 72m, beam of around 13m and draught of 3.8m.


The OPVs are understood to be powered by four Caterpillar 3512C diesels driving two controllable pitch propellers. Their maximum speed is estimated to be between 21 and 23 knots. Range is thought to be around 4,000nm and endurance around 25 days. The ships complement is 40 +12.


The first pair of Tunisian OPVs do not have a helicopter hangar. They are fitted with a davit-mounted 9m rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) in a recess located amidships on the starboard side. For ease of search and rescue operations, the ships also have a hull cutout with one deck below the RHIB.


According to Damen, the OPVs have a ‘multi-mission bay’ for a variety of mission- specific, modular payloads as well as another 9m RHIB below the flight deck.


This latter RHIB is deployed and recovered via a stern ramp that is normally covered by a door. Two containerised mission modules can be embarked in the standard MSOPV 1400 design. These are placed in the multi-mission bay through the helicopter deck. Stern hatches permit the lowering of towed payloads into the water.


The Tunisian OPVs are also fitted with a small folding crane on the foredeck.
The OPVs are also capable of undertaking firefighting with four water cannon that are mounted above the bridge and on a box superstructure behind the funnel.


Sensors installed on the vessels include two Sperry Marine navigation radars.


The OPVs are being delivered without weapons, which will presumably be installed in Tunisia.
The OPVs are expected to play a role in the Tunisian government’s ongoing operations to address illegal migration to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.