The maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is ready and willing to be part of President Jacob Zuma’s plan to unlock the ocean economy as another sector of activity that can contribute to national growth.
Rear Admiral Sagaren Pillay, Director Maritime Strategy at Navy headquarters in Pretoria, told defenceWeb “from a mandate perspective, the Navy remains responsible for the protection of South Africa’s territorial integrity and sovereignty with the maritime border being the Navy’s responsibility”.
In response to the Presidential call that ocean governance and marine protection services be implemented by 2017, Pillay said the speech delivered by Zuma was “being analysed” by the Director-General: Defence Policy in the department of the Secretary for Defence (Dr Sam Gulube).
“He is looking at the implications for the Navy in particular and the policy direction decided upon will direct future force employment missions,” Pillay said.
On acquisition of new platforms he said the new patrol vessels (without stipulating either offshore or inshore) will enhance the Navy’s patrol capability. Also a replacement for the Navy’s 43-year-old hydrographic vessel, SAS Protea, will contribute to improving the Navy’s capability in this area.
A bidders’ conference for a new hydrographic vessel was held in Simon’s Town in October. Twelve shipyards attended but to date no further information has been made public about the new hydrographic vessel.
As far as co-operating with other stakeholders in the maritime sphere was concerned, Pillay said the Navy did this as routine. “Meetings are held with the departments of Transport and International Affairs and Co-operation as well as the SA Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA) as and when required”.
On Wednesday the Navy was one of the stakeholders present at the DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Co-operation) symposium looking into the blue economy and the associated maritime security challenges for South Africa. The symposium, DIRCO said, explored maritime economic, strategic and security dimensions highlighting convergences in defence, foreign policy and economic diplomacy.
Former Navy chief and now Armscor chairman, retired Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, delivered the keynote address with Nick Sendall from the Department of Defence’s defence secretariat elaborating on the maritime and security challenges as regards the geostrategic and foreign policy implications of the 2014 Defence Review. Captain Charl Maritz, Commander of the SAS Mendi, gave the symposium an insight into naval and coastal patrolling issues while Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Rusty Higgs, chaired the afternoon session.
When he launched the ocean economy boost as part of Operation Phakisa in Durban in October Zuma indicated the oceans off South Africa have the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the economy and create more than a million jobs by 2033.