SA Special Forces Association also part of submarine museum project

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In a move sure to be welcomed by those behind the submarine museum project, the SA Special Forces Association (SASFA) will appeal for donations to assist with financing the R1.8 million still needed to move SAS Assegaai to her final berth at Cole Point.

While not much is publicly known about South African submarine operations prior to democracy, those involved in what was then the ‘recces’ used SA Navy (SAN) Daphne submarines as delivery and collection vehicles for clandestine missions.

Their association has committed to asking ex-Special Forces operators for donations in lieu of the bunk allocations used when active, going to and returning from missions in the sub-surface craft, retired admiral Digby Thomson, a former submariner who is part of the Assegaai team, told defenceWeb.

He said expenditure has “purposefully” been slowed down to “more quickly” accumulate the funds needed for the “critical” move of the former SAS Johanna van der Merwe (S99) to her “final resting place”.

“The move is going to require approximately R1.8 million and within the region of R700 000 in the kitty we’re still a long way short,” he said, adding this was not in any way detracting from the “tremendous support” from retired and serving submariners as well as the general public. Thomson named and thanked the Jarvis and Kirkland families for each donating R100 000.

“All donations above R1 000 will be permanently remembered onboard the submarine or at the museum site with varying degrees of status dependent on the amount of the donation. Large donations will, for example, allow for free access to the museum and for museum access for private functions onboard when pre-arranged,” he told defenceWeb.

Entry and exit openings are in the process of being cut into Daphne class vessel’s pressure hull with construction of accompanying portals, to be welded in position, also underway on the work – as opposed to the fundraising – front.

“The main challenge remains sufficient funding to move her and is the project team’s major focus,” he said.

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.