SAS Amatola, a frigate is designated by German manufacturer as the MEKO A-200 SAN class.
She was named after the Amatola mountain range in the Eastern Cape area where British forces fought the Xhosa nation in late 1852. Together with Isandlwana, Spioenkop and Mendi, these frigates are major surface ships of the South African Navy. The Valour-class frigate is a multi-purpose and multi-capable vessel suitable for executing various naval missions.
The frigates are designed to carry one Denel Oryx-class or two SuperLynx helicopters, which significantly improves and extends the ship’s surveillance, operational and sea rescue capabilities.
MEKO A200 is a version of the MEKO class frigate, manufactured by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany. Hydrodynamic design, sensors and weapons on board vary according to customer requirements, thereby creating many different versions. In the South African version, SAS Amatola has a displacement of 3700 tons, a length of 107m, a beam of 16.34m and a draft of 5.95m.
The manufacturer claims that this class has the radar signature of a vessel one-half her size, 75% less infrared emissions than previous designs, as well as a 20% lower life-cycle cost, 25% lower displacement, and 30% fewer crewmen. The bridge wings present on the original MEKO have been eliminated and the bridge is completely enclosed. The bridge is set atop the forward superstructure overlooking the forecastle and offering excellent views of the horizon ahead. Full helicopter facilities are seated over the stern in the form of a hangar and helo-deck, allowing the warship to launch and recover a navy helicopter.
The power is provided by a combination of diesel engines and gas turbines. Two MTU 16V 1163 TB93 diesel engines drive controllable pitch propellers providing 7940 horsepower each, it combine with a single 27000 horsepower General Electric LM2500 gas turbine acts on a waterjet propulser system. This propulsion system providing a maximum speed of 28 knots. The maximum range can be reach at 8000 nautical miles at 16 knots. The endurance of the ship is 28 days with complement crew of 152 people.
The main sensor of the ship is an MRR-3D NG multirole radar, operating on the G-band, manufactured by Thales Group, France. She is also equipped with Reutech RTS 6400 naval optronic and radar tracking system developed by South Africa. Other equipment included an Identification Friend or Foe system, Thales UMS4132 Kingklip sonar and Obstacle avoidance sonar.
The most powerful weapon on the Amatola frigate is 8 MM40 Block 2 Exocet anti-ship missile launchers which give them an anti-ship capability with a range in excess of 72 kilometres. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Navy is planning to upgrade these missiles to Block 3 standard, giving them an effective range of 180km. The ship is also equipped with 4 324mm torpedo tubes, which can be utilised to engage submarines.
The Amatola frigate is armed with a OTO Melara 76mm main gun to deal with close surface threats. It is also equipped with a twin Denel 35mm Dual Purpose Gun, two Mk1 Oerlikon 20 mm cannons and two 12.7 mm Rogue remotely operated guns to engage surface targets accurately within a 4 km range. The vessel is equipped with 32 cell Umkhonto-IR Block 2 Vertical launching system.
It can be seen that SAS Amatola is a versatile ship, equipped with weapons to fulfill many important roles in naval warfare, including anti-surface, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare. She is be capable of day or night operations in conditions up to Sea State 6.
Since her commissioned from 2006 up to now, Amatola has been actively involved in regional activities. The presence of four Valour-class frigates has greatly contributed to the combat strength of the South African Navy.