Farewell, SAS Immortelle

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SAS Immortelle, SA Navy (SAN) headquarters base in Pretoria for the past 46 years, is set to disappear.

The base on the southern side of the Pretoria central business district in Visagie Street will in future be the SAN Headquarters Unit. This, CNavy Vice Admiral Monde Lobese told a recent KwaZulu-Natal medal parade, follows a submission to Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Thandi Modise.

She approved it and SAN HQ Unit has started with “the relevant processes and system adjustments” to consign SAS Immortelle to the history books.

The name change decision, Lobese said, brings the maritime service “in line with most other services and divisions by calling their support units to the respective service and division chiefs the same name”.

The SAN will join the SA Air Force, with its SAAF HQ Unit, and the landward force’s SA Army HQ Unit.

SAS Immortelle came into being in January 1977 when what was naval headquarters moved to Pretoria from Simon’s Town. Open source information has it: “The then SA Naval Headquarters Unit was there to support Chief of the Navy and his five Chiefs of Naval Staff and their staff officers in matters pertaining to personnel, administration, operations, logistics, intelligence and finance as well as naval matters related to the inland area”.

“Under the guidance of Commander PR Bredenkamp it was decided to change the name of the unit and bring it into line with the naval custom that shore establishments bear a ship’s name. On 20 February 1981 at a colourful ceremony in the heart of Pretoria, the then Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ronald Edwards handed the telescope of command to Commander Bredenkamp, thereby charging him with command of the SA Naval Headquarters Unit under the new name SAS Immortelle.”

Lobese did not give the medal parade a date when the new name will be taken into use.

On the relocation of the SAN facility on the Port of Durban’s Salisbury Island, he said the “planned move to Richards Bay is progressing steadily and we [the SAN] are at the mercy of Transnet National Ports Authority to move the process forward. Remember, the TNPA asked us to move, not the other way around. The Navy agreed to the move in principle, but made it clear we expect a brand new naval base in Richards Bay before we move there. Currently the memorandum of understanding between the SANDF and TNPA has been finalised and we are waiting to sign it.”

At present there is no indication when the commissioning ceremony for the second MMIPV (multi-mission inshore patrol vessel) SAS King Shaka (P1572) will take place other than SAN Public Relations saying it will be in October. Durban was touted as home port for the patrol squadron and this arrangement will continue until Naval Base Richards Bay is fully operational.