The SA Navy is to relocate its sprawling technical training school, SAS Wingfield, along with some depots from a run-down World War Two-era site near Goodwood, Cape Town, to a purpose built new facility at Simon’s Town.
The move – for which the Navy has already received an initial R40 million – follows a comprehensive multiyear investigation into the rationalisation of the Navy’s training institutions.
Navy director maritime plans Rear Admiral (Junior Grade) Sagaren Pillay says the "facilities in their
present form are old and out of date in terms of their technical equipment." He adds that their maintenance is also "a problem".
"With this in mind, the Navy Review of 2001 proposed the rationalisation and consolidation of the training infrastructure in Simon`s Town. The [Project Screwdriver] study said it was both feasible and possible."
He adds that a major driver for the move is co-locating technical training and the assets acquired under the 1999 Strategic Defence Package.
Pillay says project plans are now ready and the consultancy reports on the buildings to be constructed have been approved "and we are at a stage to tender to have them built."
Navy chief Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu adds that Wingfield is subject to land claim and that the City of Cape Town wants the space for low cost housing.
"The WW2-style infrastructure and accommodation is not up to standard," he says. "We want whoever gets that land to build us a similar facility in Simon`s Town. That has now been agreed to.
While Pillay says there is "surprisingly enough" adequate space in seaside Simon`s Town for training units, Mudimu says the Navy`s other facilities will remain in place – and some may be upgraded.
Mudimu says the Navy`s basic and rating training school, SAS Saldanha, will remain in place, as will the SA Naval College officer school at Gordon`s Bay and the SA Naval Staff College at Muizenberg.
The navy chief concedes the move will "pose a number of challenges in terms of road infrastructure.
"Maybe the air force will assist us with these things," he jokes.