leading edge wrote:
Sorry for the thread resurrection, but was paging through SA's Fighting Ships Past and Present by Allan Du Toit.
The entry on the D'Estienne d'Orves class (A69) that we were to purchase, spoke about the previous attempt to buy the Baptista de Andrade class.
These were the 4 vessels being built for the SAN by Spain, with Portugal as the intermediatery. As is well known, the coup in Portugal in 1974 prevented these from being delivered, and they were inducted into the Portuguese navy. A brief perusal of it's armament and electronics show that these were meant for South Africa.
At the time, it was announced that 4 would be built in Spain (Bazan), and 2 would be built locally, for a total of 6. Adverts were placed in South African newspapers in 1972 asking for tenders to build these other 2.
Now, it was announced that these vessels were ordered in 1971. All 4 were launched in 1973 and 1974, before the coup in Portugal, but not completed in time before the coup in April 1974. The lead boat was commissioned late in 1974.
The point I'm trying to make, is that if we were to build 2 locally, with adverts for tenders from local shipyards placed in 1972 already, and the Spanish built ones were so close to being ours before politics scuppered the deal, It stands to reason that we would have had the engineering blueprints already, so late in the day.
Therefore, surely any local corvette would have been a derivitive of this design. The local corvette design was guessed in the defence media to be around 1500 tons in displacement, with strikecraft weapons, and perhaps ASW torpedo tubes and helicopter, which ties neatly with the 1400 ton Baptista de Andrade, just slightly enlarged or lengthened.
I'd imagine that by the time the local corvette project was almost launched, with the steel just about to be cut in the late 1980's that this design would perhaps have been modified, as surmised above, with perhaps permament helicopter facilities?
The basic design, which could be traced to the João Coutinho class corvettes, was used in a slightly heavier, stretched format by Spain in the Descubierta class a couple of years later. I'm not sure on this, but it has also been mentioned that the Argentinian Espora class, that is currently at Siminstown, is a further slightly enlarged extrapolation of this design.
So the indigineous corvette would likely be based on the Baptista de Andrade class?
Any thoughts on whether my reasoning is correct?
The problem with the above reasoning is that no contract was ever signed for these vessels by South Africa:
To quote Commander Potgieter:
A project team (Project Taurus) was established in Lisbon in February 1972. But as the SAN wanted more than the basic Joao Couthinho design and decided to improve the design and upgrade its weapon systems. This resulted in the ships becoming bigger and more expensive, while the completion date of the project study phase was postponed. Due to the rising cost, it was clear by September 1973 that only three, instead of six ships, could be built. Contract negotiations didn’t commence immediately after the completion of the final vessel requirements (end of 1973) and it soon became clear that the tenders would not be finalized before November 1974 - which yet again would delay the project for another year. These setbacks were attributed to a lack of support from the Portuguese Navy, the SAN’s constant changes to the basic design and the poor ability of the SAN and Armaments Board (AB) to design ships and do proper cost analysis. The ship therefore "grew" in size (from 1300 tons to 1800 tons) and price, while time was running out!
In the end Project Taurus was cancelled due to the changing political climate in Portugal. After the bloodless coup d’etat in 1974, Portugal immediately granted independence to its colonies in Africa. South Africa was notified that Portugal would no longer continue with the project. Due to all the delays, the project therefore ended before any contracts could be finalised.