SAS Amatola almost back in SA


The South African Navy frigate SAS Amatola is close to her home port of Simon’s Town after departing Namibia on the final leg of her three month voyage.

The vessel arrived in the port of Walvis Bay on 17 April and the following day received invited guests, who were welcomed by Captain J F Roux and Yvette L M Myakayaka-Manzini, the High Commissioner of South Africa.

She said soldiers make sacrifices in the line of duty and made note of the loss of two South African soldiers who were training in Namibia several years ago. They drowned when their boat capsized during an exercise.

SAS Amatola departed Simon’s Town on 17 January under Operation Ketane, which saw the vessel undergo British Operational Sea Training (BOST) off Plymouth, the centenary commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi during the First World War near Portsmouth on 21 February and participation in Exercise Good Hope VII with the German Navy in the Baltic Sea from 27 February to 5 March. This was followed by a historic visit to Rostock, after which the frigate sailed to Rota in Spain.

During Amatola’s refuelling stop in Spain between 19 and 21 March, she was visited by US Navy Commander R J Caldwell, commanding officer of guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) on 20 March. A South African native, Caldwell went aboard Amatola for an unofficial visit in the interest of establishing good rapport with a fellow warship, the US Navy said.

While on Amatola, Caldwell invited the wardroom and crew of the Amatola to visit the Ross, and two days later, they came aboard the Ross for a tour. During their visit, Amatola crewmembers visited the bridge, Combat Information Center, and Central Control Station, and had a chance to see the ship’s Mark 45 5-inch gun, close-in weapons system, sea rolling airframe missile, and Mark 38 weapon systems.

First stop on the West African leg of the trip was Tema, Ghana, on 30 March, where Amatola carried out several exercises with Ghanaian sailors and hosted a dinner on board on 31 March to commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi.

Amatola, the first of the Navy’s four Valour-class frigates to undergo an extensive refit in 2014/15, then proceeded to Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, departing on 8 April, and was due in Luanda, Angola, between 11 and 13 April.

According to ship tracking data, SAS Amatola is nearing Cape Town and is expected to arrive in Simon’s Town either today or tomorrow.