SA Navy’s first MMIPV still busy with OTE

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The first MMIPV (multi-mission inshore patrol vessel) to be taken into service by the SA Navy (SAN) – SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571) – is still busy with operational testing and evaluation (OTE) three months she was welcomed to the fleet.

With a pair of international exercises looming on the horizon – one six weeks away – she could have her first taste of “action” when Brazilian and Indian naval assets arrive in South Africa for Exercise Ibsamar, set to run from 13 to 18 October.

Sekhukhune continues the Warrior Class patrol vessels in the SAN.

In response to a defenceWeb inquiry Captain (SAN) Sam Khasuli said: “OTE is ongoing and will be completed once SAN capability testing requirements are satisfied. Capabilities and limitations must be known to set parameters and construct levels of capabilities for the platform”.

These will determine commitments and employment of not only P1571, under the command of Commander Jabulani Mashamba and Executive Officer (XO) Lieutenant Commander Mapula More, but will also set the standard for the two other MMIPVs currently under construction by Damen Shipyards Cape Town.

The OTE process has and will see Sekhukhune transit the major portion of South Africa’s 2 800 km coastline. Khasuli said P1571 will work from the western sea border at Alexander Bay to Punta do Ouro in the east. He did not provide any timeframe for this to be finished but did not shut the door on the platform’s possible involvement in either of the two upcoming exercises.

First up is Exercise Ibsamar with Naval Station Gqeberha as headquarters. At the time of publishing none of the three participating navies had released any information on platforms – naval and air – as well as personnel numbers taking part.

In November the SA Navy will host the French in the form of that country’s Indian Ocean forces for Exercise Oxide set for the Western Cape coast and due to start mid-month.

“The vessel (P1571) may partake in Exercise Ibsamar and/or Exercise Oxide as part of OTE requirements,” according to Khasuli.