When this year’s Exercise Ibsamar starts in False Bay it will be the first time the Type 209 submarine, SAS Manthatisi, will be operational again after six years being out of service.
The submarine, pennant number S101, was seen at sea over the weekend. A SA Navy spokesman in Simon’s Town confirmed she was busy with sea acceptance trials following the successful conclusion of harbour acceptance trials.
“SAS Manthatisi will be a participant in Ex Ibsamar IV which starts on October 20,” he said.
She was the first of three submarines acquired by the maritime arm of service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) as part of the 1999 Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP). Also known as the Arms Deal, this acquisition, the single largest government spend since democracy in 1994, is currently the subject of a Presidentially appointed commission looking into allegations of bribery, corruption and other impropriety.
Manthatisi was taken out of service in 2007 due to what was at the time reported to Parliament as damage to the boat’s electrical system when “someone” connected the submarine to its high voltage shore service the “wrong way round”.
While out of the water Manthatisi has undergone a total refit and maintenance overhaul, including fitment of new batteries costing more than R250 million. The refit and maintenance work was all done in the Simon’s Town dockyard and will serve as a benchmark for future similar work on the Navy’s other two submarines – SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102) and SAS Queen Modjadji (S103).
She was originally expected to be put back into the water in May but a delay in the delivery of certain spare components saw this deadline missed. Manthatisi, under the command of Commander Russell Beattie, successful completed harbour acceptance trials before starting her sea trials.
“Sea acceptance trials will only commence once the Navy is satisfied all harbour acceptance trials have been completed to rigorous Navy standards,” Commander Greyling van den Berg said while the submarine was busy with the first stage of becoming fully seaworthy again.
Exercise Ibsamar will see collective training for the Brazilian, Indian and South African navies taking place off the Western Cape from October 20 to November 7. False Bay, Lamberts Bay, Jacobs Bay and Cape Agulhas have, at this stage, been identified as points where specific parts of the exercise will be conducted.
“Building inter-operability and mutual understanding among all three participating navies is the main objective,” the spokesman said.
Picture: Allan Roy via the Unofficial SAAF website.