The South African Navy has graduated its latest batch of 146 Military Skills Development System sailors after 22 weeks of Basic Military Training.
SAS Saldanha, situated alongside Saldanha Bay Lagoon on the Cape west coast, is the largest training unit in the South African Navy. Its core business is to conduct basic, intermediate and senior military courses for non-commissioned officers. The basic course is the Military Training for Ratings Part 1 (MTR 1), which saw around 150 young men and women join the January 2018 intake.
At the graduation parade, presided over by Chief of the SA Navy, Rear Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwane, the young sailors showcased their newly acquired marching skills which they had learned over six months of basic military training that ended Friday.
The MSDS programme, Hlongwane noted, makes provision for young men and women to be equipped with skills in the fields of information technology, financial management and language within the disciplined ethos of a professional military.
Other skills provided to the recruits include precision drill, seamanship, environmental awareness, musketry, hygiene and discipline to work ethics.
Addressing the new sailors at the Passing Out Parade, Hlongwane reminded those present “that the lifeblood of any military organisation is not only its trained and skilled personnel but also the code of conduct to which they ascribe.”
“Our code of conduct reflects the organisation’s unwavering belief that discipline, loyalty, professionalism, honour, service, and others before self are fundamental to all that it is, and all that it does,” Hlongwane continued, “Indeed, all the training these young men and women received was centred on the code of conduct and so each member is fully conversant.”
“I wish to take this opportunity to impress on the men and women on parade that discipline is the bedrock of any combat ready defence force and acts of indiscipline cannot and will not be tolerated.”
The issue of discipline within the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was also noted by Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, when she addressed the inaugural South African Maritime Security Conference in Cape Town at the end of May, during which she mentioned that issues of discipline within the SANDF could be “tightened up.”
Hlongwane presented the Seamanship Award for MTR 1 to Seaman M Mkhwanazi.
The sailors now commence with the second phase of the MSDS programme, where they will be assigned specific mustering for functional training and be utilised in various fields within the SA Navy.
After their period of two years’ service, suitable MSD members are recruited into the regular service, providing there are suitable vacancies. The remainder are transferred to the Reserve Force and encouraged to use their skills and experience to find work in the private sector.