South Africa’s national border protection tasking is not confined to the country’s land borders with the SA Navy (SAN) regularly patrolling identified sections of coastline.
The SAN deploys one of three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) on these missions to prevent illegal entry of undocumented persons into South Africa and to negate contraband smuggling, Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen, communications officer of the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), said. The OPVs are based at Naval Base Durban, which will also be home to the three multi-mission inshore patrol vessels currently being built in Cape Town by Damen.
SAS Makhanda (P1569), formerly the strikecraft SAS Magnus Malan, is the most recent SAN asset to be deployed for maritime protection. This currently falls under Operation Notlela, the SANDF’s operation to support the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Other deployments have formed part of the maritime border protection tasking Operation Copper.
“Makhanda is tasked with conducting sea patrols from Durban to Ponta do Ouro (the Mozambique/South Africa) border,” said Captain Anelisiwe Tamela, SO3 Operational Communications, Joint Tactical Headquarters Kwazulu-Natal.
The aim of the deployment, according to Makhanda Officer Commanding, Commander Stanley Mohlala, is to ensure regulations as per the national state of disaster for particularly sea ports of entry and maritime borders are enforced. This is in addition to the mission’s prime tasking of continued security of South African territorial waters.
The deployment also enhances sea route protection, specifically the busy Mozambique Channel/Indian Ocean route, which carries large volumes of cargo to and from South Africa.
While at sea, Makhanda keeps a weather eye on activities including illegal fishing in conjunction with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). If needed, Makhanda and other SAN platforms tasked with maritime border protection can assist in search and rescue operations.
Joint Operations will not release information about the length of any maritime taskings nor how often they take place so as not to alert illegal trawlers, poachers and smugglers of contraband.