Durban to host World Hydrography Day this month
The South African Navy will have three of its vessels in Durban as part of its World Hydrography Day celebrations, to be marked concurrently with the Durban Port Festival on June 18 and 19. Observed officially on June 21, World Hydrography Day is a global commemoration of the science of hydrography and its importance for all shipping as well as the recreational use of waterways. Hydrography is the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans, seas, coastal areas, lakes and rivers, and predicts any future changes to them over time. The port city of Durban last played host to this SA Navy celebration in 2013 and this year’s activities will tie into a weekend of free portside fun lined up by Transnet National Ports Authority at South Africa’s busiest port. SAS Protea, the Navy hydrographic vessel, will be in port alongside SAS Makhanda and SAS Isaac Dyobha, two of the maritime force’s offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) that now call the east coast city their home port. After stops in East London (2015) and Port Elizabeth (2016) the Navy’s World Hydrographic Day celebrations this year return to Durban after a three year absence. “Although the SA Navy is a small one in world terms, we are proud that we are a professional and competent navy. Very few people know hydrography plays an important part in maritime trade. If ships cannot safely navigate the waterways of the world, it means trade becomes dangerous and expensive,” Commander Greyling van den Berg said. “The SA Navy is in the process of upgrading the existing naval station in Durban back to a fully operational naval base. “This means the footprint of the SA Navy in Durban will continue to grow.” The Durban naval installation will be home to the Navy’s squadron of inshore and offshore patrol vessels. Armscor is currently evaluating tender submissions for these six new platforms that will have an important patrol role as part of the blue economy’s maritime protection. Tenders are also presently being evaluated for a replacement hydrographic vessel for the Navy. The SAS Protea is close to 50 years old.