The SA Navy has broken its silence over the fire aboard SAS Amatola at the weekend and has confirmed it was due to an electrical malfunction.
SA Navy Communications Officer, Captain Zamo Sithole, said in a statement received by defenceWeb today: “The duty watch of SAS Amatola became aware of a fire that had started in a storage compartment on the side of the helicopter hangar on Saturday, June 4, while docked at Naval Base Simon’s Town.
“The duty watch raised the alarm and called for assistance from all authorities, both military and civilian.
“A prompt collaborated response by the Naval Base Simon’s town firefighting team, SAS Amatola firefighting team as well as the Simon’s town municipal fire brigade saw the fire contained and extinguished in a short period of time.
“Preliminary damage assessments confirm the vessel suffered minor electrical wiring damage that has no effect on its operational capability,” he said.
Military analyst Darren Olivier said while the fire was “an unfortunate incident it provided a real-life test of the firefighting training and skills of the duty crew. It should be seen as an experience gained expensively and the results of the after-action debrief and review should be incorporated into all training of sailors”.
Troubling to him was that the fire was on the first of the four Valour Class frigates to undergo a mid-life refit.