defenceWeb maritime security conference successful


defenceWeb has earned high praise for its inaugural maritime security conference in Cape Town last week.

About 100 conferees gathered at the Radison Blu hotel in Granger Bay just west of the Port of Cape Town to talk maritime security.


Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu was on hand to deliver the keynote address and gave a lively talk on the subject, with an emphasis on giving his audience feedback on the 19th International Sea Power Symposium held in Newport Rhode Island the week before.


Mudimu also called on conference goers “to produce solutions that will enhance Africa’s regional and continental maritime security” and to ensure “sea blindness does not hamper the prosperity and well being of the people of our country and continent.”


“The secret of success will lay in our ability to walk the talk,” the admiral said.


Although only scheduled to attend the morning session, Mudimu stayed the whole day and took an active part in deliberations, greatly enhancing the understanding of attendees on matters maritime.


In an impromptu closing address that afternoon, Mudimu said that the presentations he had heard were suggesting answers to many vexing questions. “Many questions I have in my mind I’m beginning to find answers to,” he said.


“I’m very [pleased with] the initiative of defenceWeb and Raytheon [the chief sponsor of the event].


“Had I known better yesterday when I was coming here I surely would have mobilised some of my colleagues in the country here and even in the region to hear the quality of presentations that were made.


“This is the answer we tried to grapple with in Rhode Island [International Sea Power Symposium].


“I said this morning there were 21 African countries that participated, SA and Nigeria presented. The 18 others participated by being there… but the issues that was discussed had something to do with Africa.


“In November-December the navy chiefs of Europe will discuss what support they must give to Africa. Where is South Africa? Why is this process not driven by the Chief of the SA Navy and the intellect gathered here?


“We must write that agenda to position our continent to be able to help maritime awareness and in doing so I think we have a favourable government that understands that by working together we can do more.


Members, ladies and gentlemen, you are a wonderful audience with wonderful intellect, I enjoyed the deliberations of the day. I wish you all the best for tomorrow…”


Admiral Mudimu expressed the wish to return the next day, but his schedule did not allow for that. At the end of the second day, Rear Admiral (JG) Alan Green, the SANDF’s Director Strategy, and a key player in the yet-to-be-published Defence Strategy 2030 document, expressed similar sentiments.


“This is important. Our sponsors made a huge effort putting all of this together, to support this type of conference. We can only work in cooperation… some refreshing thoughts came out of the academic presentations, these last few presentations… I really believe they lifted this conference to the level [from where] we can look ahead and I’m extremely grateful for that.”


Green, who attended both days, certainly enriched the deliberations by fielding – and answering – several topical questions during the Q&A sessions.


My sincere thanks to him and Adm Mudimu for their comments and attendance. A massive vote of thanks to Raytheon and Atlas Elektronik for their sponsorships, without which there would have been no event, and a hearty Bravo Zulu to my event staff who put it all together.

Voluble gratitude also to every delegate and every speaker. Your lively presentations and insightful questionsmade all the difference – especially in a week that also saw the African Union hold a ministerial meeting on maritime transport and security in Durban and the SANDF host a Joint Air Defence Symposium. People were certainly spoiled for choice and it was gratifying you chose us. Long may it so remain. 

Lastly, but by no means least, a warm vote of thanks also to the Flag Officer Fleet, Rear Admiral Robert “Rusty” Higgs and his staff for hosting the conference at Simon’s Town on Thursday. After a presentation on the Navy, conferees had the privilege of seeing the Maritime Reaction Squadron conduct a boarding exercise and were then taken aboard the frigate SAS Spioenkop, the minehunter SAS Umzimkulu and the offshore patrol vessel (ex-strike craft) SAS Galeshewe – thereby getting a real taste of South Africa’s “old” and “new” navies. Our appreciation to their officers commanding and ship’s companies for the hospitality shown.