The maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will have eight of its vessels tied up alongside and open to the public during the 16th iteration of the Navy Festival in Simon’s Town from April 22 to 24.
Additionally two Navy tugs will spend the majority of Friday, Saturday and Sunday ferrying festival visitors around Simon’s Town harbour giving a different view of the SA Navy’s warships.
Vessels that will be open to the public are SAS Drakensberg, SAS Amatola, SAS Spioenkop, SAS Protea, SAS Queen Modjadji II, SAS Umzimkulu, SAS Umhloti, and SAS Umkomaas.
Although not officially acknowledged as such, the festival commemorates the founding of the South African Naval Service in 1922 which was also known as the South African Naval Forces before becoming the SA Navy.
In a message written for the Festival, SA Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane, said it is an opportunity for the SA Navy to showcase the multiple roles its conducts for the benefit of South Africa.
“The year commenced on a high note for our men and women. As the lead service the SA Navy successfully co-ordinated Armed Forces Day 2016 in Port Elizabeth in February.
“Six vessels – SAS Amatola, SAS Drakensberg, SAS Protea, SAS Queen Modjadji II, SAS Umhloti and SAS Isaac Dyobha – were deployed in the Nelson Mandela Bay harbour from February 12 to 22. This was one of the largest deployments from SA Navy vessels from our home port Simon’s Town,” the Navy number one said, adding the ships and submarines open to the public during the Navy Festival are “instrumental in ensuring safety in our seas, in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region and in the world arena”.
The Navy Festival is, according to a Navy spokesman, an educational and fun-filled programme for young and old.
“The festival has a variety of activities, exhibitions and static displays. Events and attractions include tug rides, gun run displays, Navy band performances, firefighting and working dog displays as well as precision drill demonstrations by the SA Navy, Schools and sea cadets,” he said.
Lynx maritime helicopters and Oryx medium transport helicopters operated by 22 Squadron out of AFB Ysterplaat will demonstrate various aerial skills and drills while Navy divers will also show their skills along with Special Forces during simulated attack and hostage rescue situations.
Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane will officially open the 2016 Navy Festival during a parade on the Martello sports field on Friday, April 22.
Another highlight of the festival will be the night shoot with live firing from the Lower North Battery on Saturday at 20h00.
In addition to viewing naval operations visitors to the festival can register for a talent competition or even to be part of an open water swim in the Simon’s Town harbour.
The festival ends with a retreat ceremony on Sunday, April 24, at 17h00.