Air Force Base (AFB) Durban, along with much of KwaZulu-Natal, was on the receiving end of torrential rain and subsequent flooding which severely affected day-to-day operations from April.
A willingness to work and respect the SA Air Force (SAAF) uniform and its association to serving the country saw the men and women of the base – the last aviation occupant of what was Durban International Airport – put in the sweat equity to ensure work continued.
This dedication was acknowledged by SAAF Chief, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, during a recent visit.
He told base personnel their “cleaning and regeneration efforts” were essential to the base “getting back to normality”.
“Their resilience during such a difficult situation is applaudable, considering the base still fulfilled its obligation during Operation Chariot (sic),” the three-star general is reported as saying by Lieutenant Phuti Badimo on a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) social media account.
While at the base, Mbambo visited its sole flying squadron – 15 – and the mixed A109 and Oryx fleet it operates as well as the combined dining facility and the transport, firefighting and military police sections, as well as a vehicle workshop and servicing hangar.
The visit also took in a temporary base built to ensure operations continue. 18 Deployment Support Unit was responsible for keeping AFB Durban going in temporary premises.
Deputy CAF, Major General Innocent Buthelezi, told base personnel it was strategically important for the base to become fully operational again, bearing in mind 15 Squadron’s large area of responsibility. As the only SAAF squadron in KwaZulu-Natal, 15 Squadron is regularly tasked for both mountain and sea search and rescue operations.
Support came from his three-star boss with Mbambo reported as saying: “We need to rethink the strategy of this base and align it with the SAAF vision. Quantification, expenditure and time allocation for projects, once again, is necessary to restore the base”.