SAS Manthatisi (S101) will be back in the water on May 5 after more than six years on the hard and in the shed for a major refit.
The Type 209 diesel electric submarine was the first to be taken into service by the Navy as part of the maritime arm of service of the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) re-equipping in terms of the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP).
Manthatisi was built by Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft in Kiel, launched on June 2004 and commissioned in November the following year.
She has been out of service since 2007 following what was then reported to Parliament as damage to the boat’s electrical systems when “someone” connected the submarine to its high voltage shore service “the wrong way round” blowing fuses.
Flag Officer Fleet (FOF) Rear Admiral Bravo Mhlana said Manthatisi left the shed on April 11 and will be going back into the water on May 5. She will then start with sea acceptance trials and will be operational by the end of September.
Part of the refit sees S101 fitted with 480 new man-sized battery cells weighing 250 tons. Former SAN chief director: maritime strategy Rear Admiral Bernhard Teuteberg told a 2010 Parliamentary briefing the battery replacement would cost in the region of R35 million. He said at the time the overhaul was “major”.
The refit and overhaul work is in accordance with laid down schedules for the Type 209 submarine as well as being in line with the SA Navy’s business plan for its underwater craft.
This specifies one of the Heroine Class boats is operational, one on standby and available for training while the third undergoes maintenance. SAS Charlotte Maxeke and SAS Queen Modjadji are the other two submarines in the Navy fleet of warships.
New Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Moswua Hlongwane said the refit and overhaul work done on Manthatisi was “a landmark achievement for the SA Navy, the local defence industry and our international partners to do the work in our own backyard”.