Operational testing and evaluation is Sekhukhune’s first tasking


The latest addition to the SA Navy (SAN) fleet, SAS Sekhukhune (P1571) following commissioning last week, is now an “active” platform with operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) her first priority.

The multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV) is the first new platform in the SAN patrol squadron joining the 40 plus year-old SAS Makhanda (P1569) as the only two active patrol vessels. The arrival of MMIPVs two, expected later this year, and three next April, will boost the Navy’s patrol capacity.

Ahead of any operational tasking, Sekhukhune and her crew, led by Commander Jabulani Mashamba and Executive Officer (XO) Lieutenant Commander Mapula More, will undergo OT&E to “determine  whether the ship can perform operations she was designed for,” according to the SAN.

Home port for Sekhukhune is the naval station at the port of Durban with logistic and back-up issues dictating OT&E will be done from fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town. A SAN response to defenceWeb has it the ship’s company are “intimately acquainted” with all systems aboard. This is one outcome of the MMIPV – and its sister ships – being built at nearby Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) saw regular visits and interaction during installation and testing of systems. “They are already familiar with the ship,” the SAN said.

Another reason Simon’s Town was selected for OT&E above Durban is warranty. “The ship is still in warranty and should any problems occur, she will be close to DSCT to address issues”.

Sekhukhune was, the SAN said, “procured to be utilised in South African territorial waters, but can also operate in international waters”.

Missions in her future, post successful OT&E, include curbing illicit activities, such as smuggling, maritime resource poaching and IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing.