Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, speaking over the weekend at his last public event in his position as Chief of the Navy before he retires at the end of March, made reference to several accomplishments over the past year.
“The last period has seen an expansion of the role in terms of ensuring the national maritime security of our region,” he proudly stated during the Navy Festival in Simons’ Town.
This included bringing back into operations the fast attack craft SAS Galeshewe and SAS Isaac Dyobha which undertook patrols in Mozambican waters towards the end of last year.
In addition, the frigates and offshore vessels constantly conducted patrols in the Mozambican Channel as part of the SADC maritime security strategy “to keep pirates away as well as to ensure that the sea lines of communication are not interrupted by those elements”.
This included joint exercise with the French Navy in the waters off Mozambique.
Mudimu said that the SAN’s “daily presence in the area of responsibility ensures that the people in that part of the continent and their fishermen can conduct their fishing activities free from fear of being attacked by sea robbers of whatever kind.”
Another success was the launching of the inaugural Indian Ocean naval newsletter, the Ionsphere, aimed at providing a platform of expressing the views, opinions and concerns of the diverse activities of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). The South African Navy will be handing over the Chairmanship of IONS to Australia at the end of this month.
The frigate SAS Spioenkop deployed to Senegal in November 2013 to participate in the African Sea Power Symposium, an event cancelled at the last moment by Senegal. The ship conducted a joint military diplomatic mission on the west coast en-route to Senegal, visiting Namibia, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea.
Turning once again to the close relationship between the SAN and Cape Town, Mudimu was proud to reveal that the Navy saved the Department of Transport R40 million when it assisted the Department to reduce the wreck of the Turkish vessel Seli 1, which ran aground off Blouberg Beach, Cape Town, in September 2009. The Navy continues to assist the Department by surveying the wreck.
Other highlights included 930 National Youth Service trainees graduating from the Saldanha training facility and Ensign Nombulelo Mkhulise, the first South African naval officer to graduate from the United States Naval Academy (USNA), having obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ocean Engineering.
The South African Naval Reserve has also been restructured to ensure that it is able to augment the regular forces, “particularly at our sharp end.”
Concluding his address in a poignant manner, Mudimi said that the time has come for him to say goodbye.
“I’d love to wish that our existence together with you…will reduce the pain of having to bid you farewell,” he declared.
“But sadly, with the loss of our youth and the pain that comes with wisdom, we learn that all good journeys reach points of divergence and we come to know that indeed.”
“So, this morning, as I bid farewell to the community I loved so much, let me do this with certainty that our paths shall meet indeed, time and again, as we journey forwards,” he said.
Concluding his address to the crowds that packed both sides of Simon’s Town Main Road, he said: “To many of you, my inherited family here in Simon’s Town, know I’ll always cherish the moments we shared together, friends, shaking hands, loving together. I’ll miss you my dear family in Simon’s Town.”
Thereafter, various elements of the SAN marched down the Main Road, followed by numerous Cadet and school bands, military vehicles and support equipment.