Before the South African Navy’s frigate SAS Spioenkop departed Mozambique for South Africa, the vessel responded to the ditching of a light aircraft off Pemba.
SA Navy Chief Petty Officer Kevin Maytham reports that whilst at anchor in Pemba Bay in preparation for her farewell parade, Spioenkop was alerted to a call from an aircraft in distress.
“Soon thereafter amplifying information indicated that a civilian light utility aircraft had ditched in the water. Within minutes a sea boat and Dorado [boat] were launched with medical personnel and divers on board to locate the aircraft and assist,” Maytham stated.
Not knowing what to expect, the SAS Spioenkop’s sickbay was prepared to receive any casualties requiring immediate aid or medical attention.
Upon arrival at the scene, sailors found the aircraft had made an emergency landing in shallow water close to shore where local fisherman assisted in recovering the aircraft onto a nearby slipway. The aircraft suffered minor damage in the incident.
After a brief medical assessment, the pilot and co-pilot were flown to a nearby hospital by an Oryx helicopter for further medical assessment. They appear to only have suffered superficial wounds.
The aircraft in question is a Piper PA-22 Tri Pacer (C9-CET), which was originally registered in South Africa as ZS-CET before moving across the border.
SAS Spioenkop spent nearly three months in Mozambique as part of the Southern African Development Community’s Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), relieving smaller offshore patrol vessels.
Spioenkop was tasked with execution of barrier patrols along the coast of the Mozambique Channel between Pemba and Tanzania, working with the Tanzanian Navy ship (TNS) Fatundu and Forças Armadas de Defesa Mozambique (FADM) patrol boats.
One of the notable successes of SAS Spioenkop took place in Matemo Island, where the Maritime Reaction Squadron formed part of an operation with SAMIM Security Forces and successfully launched them onto Matemo Island in pursuit of Al-Sunna Wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) terrorists.