Book review: South Africa’s Navy

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South Africa’s Navy – A Navy of the People and for the People provides a superb window into the modern South African Navy – with an emphasis on its current equipment and thinking.
In explaining the Navy, authors retired Admirals Chris Bennett and Arnè Söderlund also trace the history of the sea service since its establishment in 1922 as something of an afterthought by the land-orientated Union Defence Force.
That landward focus has nearly killed the Navy on more than one occasion and meant that South Africa entered World War Two with no ships and just three officers as well as three ratings. Yet, then as now, SA was a maritime power, largely dependent on sea trade.
Indeed, SA Maritime Safety Authority CEO Tsietsi Mokhele noted at the 2009 edition of the Sea Power for Africa Symposium that half of SA`s GDP is generated by trade and of this trillion rand 98% takes place by sea.
The deputy commander of the German navy, Rear Admiral Andreas Krause noted at the same symposium that “the sea lines of communication must be disturbed, perhaps even disrupted before the public realises their importance.”
In September 1939 SA had no Navy, but its enemy did and Nazi ships prowled the coast as early as October. The saying goes that that the “price of freedom is eternal vigilance” and that includes ensuring an adequately resourced sea service. Just as important is the education of politician and public alike in the need for the Navy and the paramount importance of keeping it properly funded, staffed and equipped.
South Africa`s Navy – A Navy of the People and for the People goes a long way towards doing this.
This colourfully illustrated book will be a useful, if not vital reference guide for those interested in naval matters in general and the SA Navy in particular for years to come.   

Adm Söderlund tells me the proceeds of the book is going to the preservation of SA`s last Daphne-class submarine, the SAS Assegaai. The book costs R200 (plus R40 postage) and can be obtained from the offices of the Navy News in Simon`s Town or from the Navy Museum. Orders with proof of payment can be faxed to  021 787 4807 . Payments should be made to the Naval Heritage Trust (“SAN Book”) at the Standard Bank of Fish Hook (branch code 036009), account number 072 102 276. (The Navy News, itself well worth subscribing to, can be hailed at  021 787 4607 .)       
South Africa`s Navy – A Navy of the People and for the People
Rear Admiral CH Bennett & Rear Admiral (JG) AG Söderlund
SA Navy
Simon`s Town
2008