SAS Spioenkop (F147), the Valour Class frigate tasked to be next on station for the counter-piracy Operation Copper last month, is on her way back to Durban “after experiencing operational defects”.
Her arrival on station in the Mozambique Channel was also delayed after Spioenkop had to port in Durban en route. This was due to a propulsion system problem which, according to SANDF Joint Operations, was attended to at Naval Base Durban.
The remedial work undertaken at the east coast port does not appear to have been sufficient and defenceWeb was informed by a reliable source the 3,950 ton German-built warship was “limping” back to Durban.
Unconfirmed indications are problems with propulsion have been experienced and at least one engine will have to be removed to enable corrective work to be undertaken.
Navy headquarters in Pretoria this week confirmed in response to a defenceWeb enquiry that “SAS Spioenkop is currently sailing back to Durban after experiencing operational defects”. No information was available about the time the vessel is expected to be out of service or a possible replacement platform and when it would take up station in the Mozambique Channel.
Spioenkop is the third of the Valour class frigates acquired by the SA Navy to enhance its blue water capability as part of the 1998 multi-billion Rand arms deal. Her keel was laid down in February 2002, she was launched in August 2003 and commissioned in March the following year.
Spioenkop has to date this year been to India to participate in that country’s International Fleet Review and was also the SA Navy’s sole representative in the Ibsamar exercise that followed the review. She also took an active part in the mid-year naval exercise Red Lion, part of the defence force-wide Exercise Ndlovu.