The Royal Navy’s River class patrol vessel HMS Clyde has arrived in South Africa for a nearly three month long rest and replenishment stop.
The vessel (P257) arrived in Simon’s Town on 22 December, and is scheduled to depart again on 20 February. She sailed past Tristan da Cunha on 17 December on her way to South Africa.
The Royal Navy said the HMS Clyde patrols the territorial seas and monitors the airspace around the Falkland Islands whilst conducting routine visits to the small settlements found throughout the islands. The vessel also visits other British Overseas Territories such as South Georgia.
HMS Clyde was launched in Portsmouth Naval Base on 14 June 2006 by VT Group shipbuilders. After entering service, one of her notable achievements was assisting in the rescue of 347 passengers and crew from a cruise ship on 18 November 2015, after an engine room fire on board.
The vessel has a length of 81 metres and beam of 13 metres. She is powered by two Ruston 12RK 27 engines developing 5 500 hp, giving a top speed of 21 knots and range of 5 500 nautical miles and 21 day endurance. Equipment includes two small boats while a flight deck can accommodate a medium sized helicopter. Armament comprises one 30 mm cannon and seven machineguns.
Royal Navy vessels often visit Simon’s Town in line with naval cooperation between the two countries: for example RFA Gold Rover, HMS Portland, and HMS Protector were some of the Royal Navy vessels to visit in 2016.
The Royal and South African Navies will join forces early this year to commemorate one of the worst disasters in the Commonwealth country’s history. Ceremonies will take place ashore in Portsmouth and Southampton as well as over the wreck of the troopship SS Mendi, which sank after a collision in fog off the Isle of Wight on 21 February 1917, taking 616 South Africans – all but nine of them black troops – down with her.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, the South African Navy is dispatching the frigate SAS Amatola to the UK to support ceremonies ashore and over the wreck site – the first stage in a three-month deployment to Europe.
Royal Navy divers are planning to go down to the Mendi’s wreck, which sits upright on the seabed in 100 feet of water some 30 km southwest of the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight, placing the South African flag and wreath in memory of all 646 souls lost, the Royal Navy said.
The South African Navy has received several other visiting naval vessels recently, including two vessels from Iran’s navy, which arrived on 15 November. The IRIS Alavand and IRIS Boushehr docked in Durban after a stop in Tanzania following their counter-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. The previous month the Nigerian Navy’s offshore patrol vessel NNS Unity arrived in Simon’s Town on her delivery voyage from China.