What has been said by local residents to be an impressive performance by SA Navy firefighters saw a fire aboard SAS Amatola at the weekend swiftly and efficiently contained with apparently minimal damage but the powers that be in Simon’s Town have put a lid on further information.
A resident said he heard fire engines with sirens screeching heading toward Simon’s Town on Saturday afternoon.
“I checked the mountains to see if there was a fire and never looked down to sea level,” he said, adding the fire on the Valour Class frigate was “seemingly not too serious and some really rapid intervention by navy firefighters quickly brought it under control”.
Requests to fleet media relations in Simon’s Town for more information on the type of fire, the number of firefighters involved and damage caused were turned down flat.
“The Navy is not saying anything about the fire,” a media relations officer told defenceWeb.
As far as can be ascertained, no-one was injured in the fire and damage to the frigate was minimal.
According to defenceWeb sources, Amatola was docked next to SAS Drakensberg at the time, and firefighters from both vessels as well as Simon’s Town were able to put out the fire, which emanated from the hangar area of the ship and lasted around 45 minutes. A fire engine from the Navy and two from the City of Cape Town responded to the incident. Another source said the fire was electrical and was extinguished ‘within minutes’ with minor damage.
“This fire is an unfornate incident that provided a real-life test of the firefighting training and skills of the duty crew,” military analyst Darren Olivier said. “It should be seen as experience gained expensively and the results of the after-action debrief and review should be incorporated back into the training of all sailors.
“That what appears to have been an electrical fire happend on the first frigate to have been refitted is troubling, and I hope that when the Board of Inquiry completes its investigation the results are made public.”
As is customary with incidents in the military, a board of enquiry will be convened to try and establish cause and make recommendations to prevent similar incidents happening in future.
Photo: Peter Smith