The junior officer ranks of the SA Navy are 66 stronger following a graduation parade at the SA Naval College in Gordon’s Bay.
The 47 midshipmen and 19 women who successfully completed the course, passing in both combat and technical musterings now carry midshipman, ensign or sub-lieutenant rank, depending on qualifications.
Addressing the graduation parade, Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane, made what has become an oft-laboured point from senior SA National Defence Force (SANDF) officers during a year in which the coronavirus pandemic severely impacted South Africa and the world.
“Significant budget cuts were implemented across departments to absorb some effects of COVID-19. The SANDF and the SA Navy especially was particularly hard hit.
“This had a severe impact on our capabilities and ability to fulfil our mandate, further exacerbated by consistent budget cuts year on year. These effects were most keenly felt in our fleet and in terms of our prime mission equipment,” South Africa’s senior military mariner told the parade, broadcast to adhere to lockdown regulations while enabling family and friends of those graduating to be part of the parade.
Hlongwane said the pandemic, its resultant lockdown at varying levels and regulations taught all, including the maritime service, to be innovative and adopt outside-the-box thinking.
“In the case of Naval College, Gordon’s Bay, new ways of conducting lectures were implemented while adhering to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.”
Other initiatives saw new partnerships, one with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, to “breach gaps”.
“The pandemic,” Hlongwane told the parade, “taught us in order to continue fulfilling our mandate we require all hands on deck. Overcoming the challenges posed by it will continue to require considerable determination, commitment and flexibility. It also forced us to think and work smarter.
“We cannot have divisions, dissention and indiscipline in our ranks. We need to face these challenges with single-minded determination and most importantly, we need to face them together as a team.”