The maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) logged slightly more than half the number of hours at sea it targeted during the 2017/128 financial year.
According to the Department of Defence (DoD) annual report for this financial term the SA Navy was supposed to log twelve thousand sea hours in the 12 month period.
It only managed 6 046,68 (the exact figure published in the report) and the “deviation” is accounted for “as a result of the unavailability of vessels at the required level of capability due to maintenance cycle delays and operational defects”.
The report further notes hours at sea include force employment and preparation. Force employment was the major contributor with 3 470,26 hours with force preparation, essentially training, contributing 2 576, 42 hours.
It also states “South Africa’s maritime borders were effectively defended, protected and secured by means of patrols in the Mozambique Channel in the prevention of maritime piracy activities in support of Operation Copper”.
The maritime service’s involvement in what the report calls “border safeguarding” saw “maritime border patrols ensure the safety and territorial integrity of South Africa’s maritime borders and the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)”.
Platforms deployed were the offshore patrol vessels SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565), SAS Makhanda (P1569)and the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg (A301). Elements of the Navy’s operational boat division and maritime reaction squadron were deployed on all three platforms.
The Valour Class Frigate SAS Amatola (F145), with a maritime reaction squadron component aboard, participated in Exercise Oxide with the French Navy off the island of Reunion in maritime efforts to contribute to a better and safer Africa in a better world. This also saw two Navy officers deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as military observers in Operation Mistral.
“The execution of these and other activities confirmed the SA Navy as a professional, modern and capable organisation able to compete with its international counterparts,” according to the report.
The Navy also provided professional hydrographic services to the international maritime community in the form of hydrographic information and products for safe navigation.