The refurbished offshore patrol vessel SAS Isaac Dyobha has taken over from the SAS Galeshewe in patrolling the Mozambique Channel for pirates and other maritime hazards.
Galeshewe is on its way to Cape Town after a four month patrol, and will be used by the South African Navy (SAN) for training duties.
Galeshewe was the first offshore patrol vessel (OPV) to be assigned duties for Operation Copper, the three nation anti-piracy effort off the lower continental east coast. Her deployment in the Mozambique Channel means three different classes of South African warship – the supply ship SAS Drakensberg and at least two of the Valour Class frigates have to date supplied the maritime ears, eyes and reaction forces to stop pirates venturing into Southern African Development Community (SADC) waters.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula indicated R585 million of the current defence budget has been allocated to Operation Copper. South Africa has partnered with Mozambique and Tanzania in this ongoing anti-piracy operation.
Three Warrior-class strike craft (of nine originally received in the 1970s and 80s) were recently converted into offshore patrol vessels by Southern African Shipyards (SAS). Isaac Dyobha completed sea acceptance trials at the end of February, with Galeshewe following shortly afterwards. SAS Makhanda is still awaiting sea trials, as spare parts are required before the vessel can head out to sea, according to Southern African Shipyards.
A fourth strike craft, SAS Adam Kok, is currently at Salisbury Island, Durban, awaiting refit. Tenders have gone out, but not been awarded yet.
An OPV will be permanently operated from Naval Station Durban – they are currently operating from there on a detached basis from Simon’s Town, rotating with one another.
Photo: Martin Venter, Navy News