SA Navy in intensive care – Lobese

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First port of call for Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla in 2024 was SA Navy (SAN) Headquarters, continuing a schedule of visits to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) services and divisions started last year.

On arrival at the Visagie Street building formerly known as SAS Immortelle and now Navy Headquarters on the southern side of the Pretoria central business district (CBD) on 25 January, Makwetla was met by SA Navy (SAN) Chief, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese.

The country’s senior sailor is reported by SAN Public Relations as telling the deputy minister the maritime service is “in intensive care” and unable to provide combat-ready vessels at the capability level required “for the republic’s defence or to meet its international duties and commitments”.

Lobese further emphasised the negative impact “annual underfunding” has had on the Navy’s ability to sustain and regenerate since at least 1988.

Makwetla heard from Rear Admiral (JG) Piet Masimala, Director Maritime Plans, on the current state of the SAN. He addressed a range of “significant concerns underlying the organisation’s challenges” with budget constraints topping the list.

“Difficulties included maintenance, repairs, improvements and, in certain cases, replacement of the current deteriorating fleet.”

During the presentation to the Deputy Minister, proposals on how to make the SA Navy “more viable” in terms of assets, force design, and footprint were presented.

Apart from the January call on the SAN, Makwetla has to date been to the SA Air Force (SAAF), SA Army, the Joint Operations Division and the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS).