When it comes to foreign relations, the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) can justifiably be called the leader of the pack.
Evidence of this is the just about to be completed extensive foreign deployment of SAS Amatola and a visit to SA Navy fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town by Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, Chief of the Nigerian Navy.
SAS Amatola due back in her home port, Simon’s Town, on 22 April after an epic 96 day foreign deployment that saw, among others, participation in the centenary commemoration of the SS Mendi sinking in the English Channel, joint exercises with the Royal Navy and the German Navy, also known as Deutsche Marine, as well as port visits, diplomatic calls and anti-piracy patrols along Africa’s west coast.
When the Valour Class frigate ports on 22 April it will mark the completion of the active component of Operation Ketane with only the paperwork left to wrap up what by all accounts has been a first class diplomatic and training initiative.
Amatola is currently in Luanda, Angola, which she will depart on 13 April. She visited Ghana at the beginning of the month, departing for Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 3 April before leaving for Angola on the 8th. Her final stop is Walvis Bay, Namibia (April 17 to 19).
The SA Navy is a regular port of call for senior fleet officers from African and other countries’ navies presenting their maritime services’ compliments to either the Chief of the Navy at the Navy Office in Pretoria or Flag Officer Fleet (FOF) at fleet HQ in Simon’s Town.
Late last month saw the delegation from Nigeria’s naval force meet with CNavy, Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane, in Simon’s Town. The delegation was met by FOF, Rear Admiral Bubele Mhlana, and heard a presentation on fleet capabilities before visiting SAS Isandlwana and SAS Queen Modjadji I.
In February the French patrol vessel, FNS Le Malin paid a courtesy call to Durban. During her brief stay, Officer Commanding, Lieutenant Commander Nicolas Fury, visited the harbour master; the provincial judge president in the form of his deputy; AFB Durban and Naval Base Durban, where refurbishment is currently underway as part of the base upgrade.
In January Major General Ali Abdllaha A. Alkahtani, Commander of the Saudi Arabian Defence Force Staff College, was 2017’s first senior foreign military visitor to the SA Navy. His call on the fleet was to benchmark training facilities available and the delegation called on the maritime warfare training centre for presentations as well as some hands-on experiences.
In December last year the Royal Navy’s patrol vessel HMS Clyde arrived in South Africa for a three month long refurbishment period at the naval dockyard in Simon’s Town. During her stay personnel from the vessel took part in the Navy Festival in Simon’s town during February.