Something fishy in the Navy


The Navy, in common with other SA National Defence Force arms of service, is facing ever increasing demands for its services but how well or not these are being executed does not appear to be for public consumption.

Since last April the Navy has been tasked with the overall management of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) fleet of patrol and research vessels. Only after repeated requests for information did it come out that the additional hulls in the Navy’s hands were, in the majority of instances, just hulls on arrival in Simon’s town.

Extensive refurbishing and certification had to be done before the ships were declared fit to leave harbour and undertake voyages important in the context of marine resource protection and food security. This saw warships deployed to fill the gap whilst the DAFF vessels were being refurbished.

Attempts to establish exactly the current status of the seven ships have been largely stonewalled with the re-release of a statement issued last year by the Navy’s Director: Force Preparation.

The Navy’s year-long term of management of these national assets will come to an end soon. There is, at this stage, no indication as to whether they will remain in Simon’s town under Navy command or if tenders will be called for their management and operation.

This is an issue that surely deserves more attention. If the Navy is to continue its already stretched resource base, both management and manpower, needs to know for proper planning purposes.

The veil of secrecy, whether intentional or not, surrounding the DAFF fleet needs to be lifted and speedily.