The Namibian Navy’s long-serving flagship, the Lieutenant General Dimo Hamaambo, will be auctioned to the highest bidder on Thursday next week following its decommissioning by President Hifikepunye Pohamba in August.
The sale comes as the Namibian Navy, which commissioned a new Chinese-built naval patrol vessel last month, awaits the delivery of three more Chinese-made patrol boats. The Lt General Dimo Hamaambo will be sold as scrap metal in a public auction set to be held at the headquarters of the Namibian Ministry of Works and Transport in Walvis Bay. Although the benchmark value of the ship is yet to be determined by the auctioneers, Namibian Navy Captain Petrus Tjandja said the ship is worth at least N$525 000 and bidders will be required to pay N$10 000 as registration fees to enter the sale.
The Lt-General Dino Hamaambo was named after a founder member of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (Plan) and later the first Chief of Staff of the Namibia Defense Force. Hamaambo retired in 2000.
The 58 year-old Imperial Marinheiro class ship was built in Holland in 1954 and commissioned into the Brazilian Navy in 1955 when it was named ‘Purus’ after the legendary Amazon warriors. It became the Namibian Navy’s first combat patrol vessel at the formation of naval wing in 1994, being donated by the Brazilian Navy in terms of a March 1994 naval co-operation agreement between the two countries. The agreement was renewed in December 2001 and hundreds of Namibian sailors have been trained by the Brazilian Navy since then.
The disposal of the Lt Gen Dimo Hamaambo does not translate to a reduction in the Namibian Navy’s firepower as it has just commissioned a new naval logistical support vessel NS Elephant, which was manufactured in China’s Wuhan Shipyard. The Navy awaits the delivery of three more vessels from China.
With its dead-weight of 2 500 tonnes, the 108 metre long vessel can carry both troops and cargo. It has a helicopter landing pad and can accommodate up to 56 crew members and an additional 150 passengers. It joins the Namibian Navy’s operational surface fleet of three ships, which include the flagship Grajau Class patrol boat NS Brendan Simbwaye, the Oryx Class patrol boat Nathaniel Maxwilili, the Namacurra Class Anna Kakurukaze Mungunda and two Marlin Class harbour patrol craft Mowe Bay and Terrace Bay.
The Elephant is armed with a 37 mm naval gun and two 14.5 mm twin-barelled machine guns. With a capacity to carry on board six armed personnel carriers, the new ship is expected to bolster the navy’s capabilities in patrolling Namibian territorial waters. Namibian deputy defence minister Lempy Lucas said the commissioning of Elephant signifies the country’s commitment to improve naval capabilities through the acquisition of state-of-the art navy vessels, naval support aircraft and more specialised training for the naval and marine corps.
“Namibia will continuously upgrade its naval security capabilities. The Ministry of Defence has set itself three main objectives which are: to recruit and continuously train officers, to construct new naval facilities around the country and to acquire new vessels for the navy. The training of officers is already progressing well. Over 430 officers of the navy have so far been trained at the Brazilian Naval College and many of our naval officers have graduated from various naval institutions in Brazil, as well as other countries,” she said.
The Namibian navy operates from the country’s only naval installation, the PN Sacharia Naval Base in Walvis Bay. Duties include fisheries patrol, search and rescue and offshore asset protection.
The navy employs a highly trained force of 500 sailors, most of who were trained in South Africa and Brazil. Its firepower is supplemented by a marine corps unit which employs at least 200 marines who are also trained extensively in naval warfare by Brazilian tutors at the Marine Corps training centre located at the Rooikop Military Base in the Erongo region. Of late, Namibia has increased naval co-operation with China and the relationship is expected to grow with the country having ordered more naval ships from the Asian superpower.