South Africa’s busiest commercial port – Durban – is currently hosting a significant SA Navy contingent as the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) marks World Hydrography Day.
Observed officially on June 21, the South African event is ahead of schedule to coincide with the Durban Port Festival and Youth Day events in KwaZulu-Natal.
The first World Hydrographic Day event took place on Tuesday when the officers commanding of the Navy’s three current offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) – SAS Galeshewe, SAS Isaac Dyobha and SAS Makhanda – accompanied by the Officer Commanding Naval Base Durban paid a courtesy call on James Nxumalo, Ethekwini Metro mayor.
Also present was the harbour master, Durban’s chief magistrate and senior police officers. The Navy’s Commander Greyling van den Berg explained the courtesy call is a centuries old tradition where officers commanding of visiting ships meet with senior port and city officials. “Tradition also has it that the sailors would end up doing mischief and meeting with city officials beforehand would ensure the release of arrested sailors back to their officers commanding. Sailors today are far more disciplined but the tradition lives on and is honoured worldwide,” he said.
Today saw the Navy’s hydrographic vessel, SAS Protea, host a number of civic and other dignitaries for a short sea trip during which at least some of the intricacies of the science of hydrography was explained.
On Saturday the SA Navy will exercise it right of entry into the city of Durban with a parade ending at City Hall. The parade will be led by the SA Navy band with drill troops from the naval vessels marching along with the SA Navy precision drill squad.
SAS Protea and SAS Isaac Dyobha will both be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Navy divers will also show their prowess and a defence force wide careers exhibition will inform those interested of the variety of careers on offer in the South African military.