SA Navy tours Portuguese submarine and patrol vessel


Members of the South African Navy (SAN), including Flag Officer Fleet, Rear Admiral Musawenkosi Nkomonde, have toured the Portuguese Navy’s submarine NRP Arpao and patrol vessel NRP Setubal during their recent visit to Cape Town.

The vessels were in Cape Town harbour between 4 and 11 June to coincide with Portugal Day on 10 June, which was attended by President of Portugal Rebelo de Sousa. He was also hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 6 June at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

A South African Navy Submariners Squadron group took the opportunity to board and tour the Arpao on 9 June, before Nkomonde and his delegates visited both the Setubal and Arpao. The ship was dressed in colours to celebrate Portugal Day, the SA Navy reported.

Capitao De Fragata (Lieutenant Commander) Aristides Dereira Da Costa, the second in charge of the Setubal, gave Nkomonde and his delegates a tour of the ship before the entourage proceeded to the submarine.

The Portuguese patrol vessel Setubal in Cape Town.

During the Portuguese Navy visit, Portugal’s Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, told Lusa that “We look to South Africa as an essential partner for maritime security in the South Atlantic.”

South Africa and Portugal agreed to conduct reciprocal visits of Navy and Air Force assets, joint military training exercises and will set up a Joint Defence Commission, to meet every two years, to assess implementation of all the above.

De Sousa said the visit to South Africa represented “the opening of a new phase in bilateral relations – after “a certain distance and unawareness”.

The Portuguese Navy visit to South Africa was supported by Air Products South Africa, which provided gases for the reactant replenishment of the fuel cells on the Portuguese submarine. The project was planned and executed in conjunction with Air Products’ German counterparts who have been supplying the Portuguese Navy with gases for the submarine.

According to Arthi Govender, Marketing and Communications Executive at Air Products South Africa, they were able to supply the Portuguese Navy submarine with reactants for the fuel cell, which consisted of hydrogen tube trailers, nitrogen packs, bulk liquid medical oxygen and argon cylinders through a concerted effort between the company’s facility in Cape Town and the production facility in Gauteng.

Different modes of supply were utilized to supply the gases required by the Navy. “We had to coordinate the arrival of the liquid medical oxygen via bulk tanker, nitrogen cylinder packs and the hydrogen via our new hydrogen trailers on schedule as requested by the Navy,” Govender said.