Armed Forces Day this year will be in Port Elizabeth, the first time the annual celebration of South Africa’s military and its equipment goes coastal and a range of SA Navy platforms will be open to the public.
Armed Forces Day is on February 21 and also commemorates the day of the country’s single largest naval disaster, the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi in the English Channel on February 21, 1917. She was rammed by the SS Darro and sank in 20 minutes. Six hundred and sixteen members of the SA Native Labour Corps and 22 crew drowned.
Previous Armed Forces days have been hosted by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Human resources directorate, the SA Army and the SA Air Force.
This year’s event in Port Elizabeth will be the first at a coastal venue and the SA Navy is pulling out all the stops to ensure people have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the maritime arm of the SANDF.
No less than six Navy hulls representing the country’s naval capabilities will be berthed at quays two and three of the Port Elizabeth port and will be open to the public on Saturday, February 12; Sunday, February 13; Monday, February 14 and Tuesday, February 15 ahead of the Armed Forces Day parade on Sunday, February 21.
The Type 209 Heroine Class submarine SAS Queen Modjadji, the Valour Class frigate SAS Amatola, the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg; SAS Galeshewe, one of the currently serving offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), the River Class minehunter SAS Umhloti and the Navy’s “White Lady”, the hydrographic vessel SAS Protea will be open to the public.
No entrance fee will be charged.