Navy to mark World Hydrography Day in Gqeberha

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The SA Navy (SAN) is rolling out the maritime equivalent of the red carpet in Gqeberha this week as its contribution to World Hydrography Day (WHD).

Pride of place in a four-strong warship convoy in the Eastern Cape port city goes to the ageing SAN hydrographic platform, SAS Protea (A324). Accompanying her on the port call – with ships’ visits – are the Valour Class frigate SAS Mendi (F148), the multi-mission inshore patrol vessel SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571) and the Heroine Class Type 209 submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101).

A SAN Navy Public Relations statement has it the platforms will be open to the public from this coming weekend (June 23 to 25) between 9:00 and 14:00.

The SAN band has already made the maritime service’s presence known in Gqeberha with an open air concert in the Uitenhage component of the Nelson Mandela Metro. The band will also show its musical ability in a gala concert scheduled for New Brighton’s Nangoza Jebe Hall on Saturday 24 June.

The SAN WHD events kick-off on Wednesday (21 June) with a media briefing aboard the SAS Protea and move into the community service side with the hand-over on 22 June of a Navy Legacy Project at Kama Primary School and, on 23 June, the clean-up of a Mendi memorial site. The final event of the week is a wreath laying ceremony and an SAN right of entry parade to the city on Sunday 25 June.

SA Navy exhibitions and recruitment opportunities will be on display at the Port of Port Elizabeth for the duration of the celebrations. The exhibitions will include Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS), Diving Tank, SA Navy Armaments display and Hydrography displays.

WHD is marked internationally on 21 June, emphasising the importance of hydrography particularly in protecting marine reserves and promoting safe navigation in international waters and ports. International Hydrography Day was initiated in 1921 by the International Hydrography Organisation, according to the SA Navy, and the concept of 21 June was adopted in 2005 by a UN (United Nations) General Assembly resolution. This year’s WHD celebrations are under the theme “Hydrography – underpinning the digital twin of the ocean”.

The SAN hydrographic component is in the throes of a major upgrade with a new hydrographic vessel to replace Protea currently under fabrication in Durban by Sandock Austral Shipyard (SAS). She will be christened SAS Nelson Mandela and carry pennant number A187 when she takes to the water.