SA Navy patrol squadron numbers two platforms


“Something old, something new” probably best describes the present state of the patrol squadron on the SA Navy planning board.

The “old” part of the traditional bridal rhyme refers to SAS Makhanda (P1569), the last survivor of what was the Minister Class strikecraft, while the “new” would be the just accepted SAS Sekhukhune (P1571), built by Damen Shipyards Cape Town.

Both the other “survivors” from the Warrior Class – SAS Galeshewe (P1567) and SAS Isaac Dyobha (SAS 1665) – were the forerunners, along with Makhanda, of the patrol squadron which would have Naval Station (NS) Durban as its home port.

Isaac Dyobha, originally SAS Frans Erasmus after South African defence minister between 1948 and 1959, was commissioned in July 1979. Her final voyage, ahead of decommissioning, was back to the Simon’s Town SAN fleet headquarters last month (May) following a stint in the Mozambique Channel as part of the SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique).

Galeshewe was decommissioned in October 2020 and is reportedly now in reserve.

Makhanda, previously SAS Magnus Malan, was refitted as an offshore patrol vessel in 2014 and tasked with anti-piracy, working in the Mozambique Channel as part of a then SADC (Southern African Development Community) three-nation anti-piracy initiative, also involving Mozambique and Tanzania.

She and Sekhukhune are the only seaworthy platforms in the nascent patrol squadron until the arrival of MMIPVs (multi-mission inshore patrol vessels) two and three. Number two is reported as being ready for launch this September with number three to be delivered from Damen Shipyards Cape Town in April 2024.

The Department of Defence (DoD) annual performance plan (APP) for the current year, tabled in Parliament on 16 March and to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) on 4 May, has it the “upscaling” of Naval Station Durban to “a fully functioning operational naval base” is not going to happen, with the by-now standard opt out of “budget constraints”.