SAS Spioenkop, the Valour-class frigate, returns home to Simon’s Town from a lengthy cruise to the Far East tomorrow.
She set sail for Singapore and ports east on 16 September and will dock in her berth tomorrow morning at 9am after sailing some 32 000 kilometres.
Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu, who this week said this was one of the longest cruises undertaken by the SA Navy in the post apartheid era – if not the longest, will be on hand to welcome the ship and ship`s company home.
Navy spokesman Lt Cmdr Greyling van den Berg says while away, the grey diplomat visited Singapore (3 – 8 October), Shanghai in the People`s Republic of China (16 – 20 October), Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia (25 to 29 October), Ho Chi Minh City in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (31 October to 5 November), Cochin in India (14 to 20 November) and Port Louis in Mauritius (26 November to 1 December) as part of Operation Caraway.
The Spioenkop hosted Diplomatic functions onboard for the South African High Commissioners and ambassadors in each of the ports she visited.
“This provided a perfect platform for the diplomats, government officials and businessmen to be impressed by this ultra-modern South African warship. Many of the guests who visited our ship were also overwhelmed by the professionalism and friendliness of the ship`s crew,” Van den Berg says in a statement.
One of the many testimonials about this deployment comes from Rear Admiral Liao Shining, the Commander of Shanghai Naval Base and the leader of Shanghai Municipal Government.
He said that the visit by the Spioenkop to Shanghai was a historical event and that it was the first time he could recall that senior Chinese government officials had travelled from Beijing to welcome a visiting warship.
This he said was a clear demonstration of how seriously the People`s Republic of China viewed this close relationship with South Africa.
During this deployment the general purpose frigate also safely navigated the Straits of Malacca, a known piracy chokepoint, as well as some of the busiest waterways in the world around Shanghai (where it was common to have more than 200 boats and ships visible on the navigation radar).
“Throughout all these situations the crew of Spioenkop proved their competence and professionalism,” Van den Berg adds.
The first part of the voyage to Singapore was the longest uninterrupted part of the voyage and saw the ship and its 167 crew complete a voyage of 10 500 km in 18 days.