The South African Navy’s Valour class frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147) has returned to her port in Naval Base Simon’s Town after a months-long deployment to Mozambique under Operation Vikela.
The vessel set sail for Mozambique on 2 March, and arrived on station in the Mozambique Channel to replace two SA Navy (SAN) offshore patrol vessels – SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565) and SAS Makhanda (P1569) – in line with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) contribution to SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique).
The ship arrived back in Simons Town on 30 May to a warm welcome from a crowd of cheerful family members and colleagues bearing welcoming posters for their loved ones, reports Able Seaman Palesa Skommere.
Spioenkop was tasked with execution of barrier patrols along the coast of the Mozambique Channel between Pemba and Tanzania, working with the Tanzanian Navy ship (TNS) Fatundu and Forças Armadas de Defesa Mozambique (FADM) patrol boats.
Officer Commanding SAS Spioenkop, Captain (SA Navy) CJ McKenzie, said “SAS Spioenkop departed early in March this year to form part of the forces in Mozambique under the banner of Operation Vikela. The ship faced many challenges but we navigated well with the assistance of Simons Town. In my view, we have done very well during the operation, where we acted as deterrence within the maritime domain off the coast of Mozambique. We prevented any seaward attacks. I would like to thank the SAS Spioenkop ships company and all the detached members, especially the Maritime Reaction Squadron, South African Health Military Service (SAMHS) Medical Staff, Intelligence Officer and the divers that have assisted us to successfully complete this mission.”
Ahead of Spioenkop’s return to South Africa, last week SAMIM force commander Major General Xolani Mankayi paid tribute to the ship’s crew and the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) elements for a job well done in keeping the sea lane free of terrorist activity.
He noted that one of the notable successes of SAS Spioenkop took place in Matemo Island, where the Maritime Reaction Squadron formed part of an operation with SAMIM Security Forces and successfully launched them onto Matemo Island in pursuit of Al-Sunna Wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) terrorists.
Another highlight came just before Spioenkop returned home, when the vessel responded to the ditching of a light aircraft off Pemba. Boats with medical personnel and divers were launched to locate the aircraft and assist. The aircraft had been recovered by local fishermen, but the pilot and co-pilot were flown to a nearby hospital by an Oryx helicopter for further medical assessment.
The SAS Spioenkop is in need of maintenance and will be out of action for some time as it undergoes heavy maintenance work.