SA Navy sails new riverine patrol boat through Knysna Heads


The South African Navy said it sailed a riverine patrol boat (RPB) through the Knysna Heads for the first time, as part of the Knysna Oyster Festival.

The RPB from the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) was launched in Mossel Bay and sailed through the Heads on 12 July. “These camouflaged members represented the first of the Naval contingent to arrive and simultaneously made history by entering the notorious Knysna Heads using a mere Riverine Patrol Boat,” the SA Navy said.
“The following day was also a busy day as MRS members were divided and delegated into groups for various tasks such as corporate social responsibility and paying tribute to Bondi. Bondi was a pedigree bulldog that became the mascot of HMS Verbena. During a stay at Knysna, he passed away and was buried on the edge of the Jetty. The Navy revived the tradition to maintain his gravestone in 2001.

The Navy’s participation in the Knysna Oyster Festival, over the weekend of 14 to 16 July, included a Navy Band concert and parade through the town. Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies inspected the parade and thanked the crowds and participants and spoke fondly of the bond between the town and the Navy. “Over the last 20 years, at least 50 people had passed through the local Cadet Unit and went on to serve in the Navy”, she said.

The SA Navy recently acquired three new 12 metre riverine patrol boats, which have replaced the Project Xena riverine patrol boats for the Maritime Reaction Squadron. They were built by Marine & General Engineering of Durban and designed by local company KND Naval Design.

The boats are powered by two 450 hp MarineDiesel VGT-series engines from Sweden driving Castoldi water jets (which appear to be Turbodrive 284s). The engines have a useful life of 10 years or 10 000 hours, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, and give a top speed of 40-45 knots.

The boats can be equipped with a single 12.7 mm machinegun and two SS77 7.62 mm machineguns and have seating for 12 passengers. Marine electronics are provided mainly by Japanese company Furuno and include a Furuno GPS and ship radar, a Hytera MD785G radio, an Icom IC-M604A marine VHF radio, and a Vartech Systems LCD information computer and display.

Photo: CPO J.G. Grant.