Flag Officer Fleet Rear Admiral Musawenkosi Nkomonde provided further insight into some of the myriad problems the SA Navy (SAN) – and the overall SA National Defence Force (SANDF) – face when addressing a medal parade in Simon’s Town last Friday.
Referring to the recent safe return to base (RTB) of the two currently in-service SAN offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), Nkomonde said the deployment instruction for SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565) and SAS Makhanda (P1569) for Operation Vikela was “at first an almost impossible mission for the fleet”.
“The platforms are old and have exhausted their life cycle. They presented many challenges but we managed to set them to sail. When they were in the mission area (off the northern coast of Mozambique) more defects were reported, giving me sleepless nights. I was concerned for the lives of our sailors,” Nkomonde told the parade at the Martello Sportsfield.
In an all’s well that ends well scenario, Nkomonde said he was on hand at Naval Base Durban late in October to welcome both platforms back from a three month deployment.
“Both crews were in high spirits and I had an hour’s sleep that night,” the two-star told medal recipients.
“The level of dedication during preparation, deployment and repatriation of these vessels was of a high order. For that, I thank each and every one of you,” Nkomonde said.
He reminded the parade and all SAN personnel they are “required to preserve what we have by conducting day-to-day maintenance and repairs as well as executing duties and responsibilities as pledged in the SANDF Code of Conduct”.
The immediate future for the maritime service, as presented to the SAN Command Board by its senior flag officer, is to expedite repair of vessels with a command priority for the Valour Class frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147) to be readied for deployment.
The parade saw 79 SAN staffers receive 10 year Good Service medal with a further 96 receiving the General Service Medal.
The fleet personnel medal parade will be followed this Friday (19 November) by the CNavy medal parade with Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane officiating.