The plan hatched by a group of retired senior SA Navy (SAN) officers to establish a dedicated submarine exhibit as part of the SA Naval Museum has set February next year as moving day.
While an exact date has not been set, the eight-month timeframe is doable as other – smaller but important – deadlines have been met. These, retired admiral Arne Soderland told defenceWeb, include storing germane static exhibits on the Cole Point site earmarked as SAS Assegaai’s final destination. What will be the exhibition and learning centre – still occupied – is next in line for sprucing up and being made wheelchair friendly.
Another former senior SAN officer involved in the submarine annex project, Digby Thomson, agrees on progress particularly as far as the “star exhibit” is concerned. “Foundations for the submarine have been built using donor funding. Damen supplied, fitted and painted the support frame that will be used to move the submarine and hold her in position on the foundations once moved,” his progress update reads in part.
“We’ve raised over R600 000 and need more to move the submarine. I figure when we have raised another R1.2 million we’ll be able to move the submarine and can open the museum while exterior repairs are underway,” he said. On donations – the lifeblood of the project – Thomson noted “a couple of R100 000 donations” as well as a number of “smaller ones” have been received.
Assegaai remains SAN property as part of the SA Naval Museum. The Naval Heritage Trust (NHT) has been delegated to conduct renovations, move and install the submarine on the hard stand at the western end of the Cole Point parking area, with an own entrance next to the new NSRI Station 10 building. Once on site, with entrance/exit doors installed in the pressure hull, NHT will manage and operate the submarine on similar principles to those previously in place when the boat was in the water.
Assegaai (S99) was commissioned as SAS Johanna van der Merwe and was the last of three Daphne submarines in service ahead of the arrival of Type 209 Heroine Class boats, part of the Strategic Defence Procurement Plan (SDPP).