The South African Navy frigate SAS Spioenkop ported in Simon’s town earlier today, ending a six week voyage that took in six west African countries as part of the military diplomatic mission, Interop West.
The Valour class frigate, under the command of Captain Mike Boucher, was originally earmarked to fly the South African flag during the Africa Seapower Conference in Dakar, Senegal, as part of her mission. The late cancellation of this event allowed the frigate to make an extra port call at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
On her transit up the west coast of the continent, Spioenkop’s first port of call was Walvis Bay in Namibia, followed by Luanda in Angola. From there she steamed on to Nigeria where she ported in Lagos before the next stop at Tema in Ghana. The second last porting was at Dakar, Senegal, before steaming northwards to Malabo.
On both the outbound and return legs the traditional Crossing the Line ceremony was performed making the entire Spioenkop ship’s company members “shell-backs”, those who have crossed the equator at sea and paid homage to King Neptune.
This tradition was not allowed to stand in the way of regular training aboard, with navigation and other sea skills regularly practiced. Training also saw a number of internal qualifications successful completed during the voyage.
As with any lengthy transit, maintenance of the vessel is an important task and this saw, literally, all hands on deck from time to time. A number of exercise evolvements were also undertaken with the navies of countries called on during Interop West.
In addition to a ship’s company numbering 180, Spioenkop also carried 12 Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) members and four SA Military Health Service medical specialists.
Receptions were held for local naval dignitaries and government officials accompanied by South African diplomatic representatives at all ports of call.
“Spioenkop represented South Africa well and people were amazed such a modern ship was part of the SA Navy. The ship and her crew were well received and supported by our High commissions, South African business communities in the countries visited as well as targeted publics,” Boucher said, with the Valour Class frigate safely tied up alongside in her home port.