While the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) SAS Galeshewe (P1567) might be said to be decommissioned, the Navy Office in Pretoria has it the former strikecraft is “currently in Class 1 Reserve”.
This means, according to a statement from SA Navy (SAN) headquarters in Visagie Street, Galeshewe can be recommissioned “if we would be able to do so”.
SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565) and SAS Makhanda (P1569) are currently the maritime service’s lone patrol vessels until at least the middle of this year when delivery of the first multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) is expected. A contract for three MMIPVs was entered into between Armscor, government’s defence and security acquisition agency, and Damen Shipyards Cape Town under Project Biro. The original call for six platforms – three inshore and three offshore – was cut due to lack of funding.
All three SAN offshore patrol vessels are converted strikecraft which first went into service as Minister Class platforms with the class and ships’ names changed to Warrior Class following the advent of democracy and the formation of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in the mid-nineties.
P1567 was one of nine strikecraft acquired by the SAN. She was launched in March 1982 as the SAS Hendrik Mentz and commissioned in February the following year. The Mentz name was consigned to the history books in April 1997 ahead of the Navy 75 anniversary and the Presidential Fleet Review.
Galeshewe’s naval ensign was lowered for the last time in October last year when she was decommissioned after 37 years plus of service. There was no indication from Fleet Headquarters in Simon’s Town as to what would happen to the former strikecraft. defenceWeb asked whether she would go to the breaker’s yards, become a target or possibly even a new acquisition for the Naval Museum. It took close on two months for a response.
On hearing of the possible re-commissioning a retired senior SAN officer told defenceWeb he “somehow does not see it happening”.
Elaborating, he pointed to mid-life upgrades of the Valour Class frigates with only one having “most” of the necessary work done. “All other upgrade work has, to the best of my knowledge, been put on indefinite hold due to financial constraints. I don’t see re-commissioning of an already once converted platform featuring in any Navy budget planning especially not when work is underway on two of three new inshore patrol vessels (IPVs).”