Manthatisi refit nearing completion


The planned refit, including battery replacement, of SAS Manthatisi, the first of the SA Navy’s (SAN) Heroine Class submarines, is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

S101 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.

SAN Fleet public relations officer, Commander Cara Pratten, said it was planned for Manthatisi to be back in the water by March next year for first harbour and then sea trials.
“Indications are she will be fully operational by September next year.”

All the work associated with the refit and replacement of defective and/or damaged parts is being done in the Simon’s town dockyard, run by Armscor.

The battery replacement will see Manthatisi get 480 new man-sized 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 currently nearing completion on Manthatisi is in accordance with the laid down schedules for the Type 209 diesel electric submarine as well as being in line with the SAN’s business plan for its underwater craft.

This sees one operational, one on standby and available for training while the third undergoes maintenance.

Manthatisi is the lead boat of the Heroine Class acquired at a cost of more than R8 billion as Project Wills, a component of the controversial Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP). This multi-billion Rand acquisition of new front-line equipment for the SA Air Force and SAN is currently the subject of hearing by the Seriti Commission.

The other Heroine Class boats are the SAS Charlotte Maxeke and SAS Queen Modjadji.

Last August Modjadji hit the ocean floor while on a training exercise between Port Elizabeth and Durban but did not suffer any damage.

A SAN statement issued then said the boat suffered a minor collision to her forward section while on routine patrol along the east coast. The high pressure oil supply was briefly interrupted resulting in a temporary loss of control.
“The boat collided with the ocean floor but immediately surfaced,” the statement said.

On her return to Simon’s town Modjadji was inspected by a team of divers and a hull survey was done showing no damage to the pressure hull structure.