Five SA Navy vessels in Durban for Armed Forces Day, but no frigate

Five SA Navy platforms are in Durban for Armed Forces Day and while there is no Valour Class frigate alongside, a submarine, offshore patrol vessel (OPV) as well as the venerable SAS Drakensberg (A301) and SAS Protea (A324) are expected to generate much visitor interest. The naval component of Armed Forces Day, being staged in the major east coast harbour city for the first time, has tied up alongside at A and B berths in the port of Durban. The ships will be open to the public from 9am to4pm this Saturday and Sunday (February 18 and 19). The Heroine Class submarine, SAS Queen Modjadji (S103), was the third and last Type 209 underwater craft to be taken into service by the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPP). She was launched at the Kiel Howaldtswerke in Germany in March 2006 and commissioned in May 2008. The other two Heroine Class submarines in service are SAS Manthatisi (S101) and SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102). SAS Galeshewe (P1567) is the former SAS Hendrik Mentz strikecraft and has been in service for more than 30 years first as a strikecraft and the sharp end of the then SA Defence Force Navy and latterly refurbished to do duty as an OPV. She is due to be replaced by one of three new purpose-built OPVs which Armscor has evaluating ahead of a preferred bidder announcement. Tenders have also been called by the state’s defence and security acquisition agency for three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) for the Navy with preferred bidder Damen Shipyards named. The replenishment vessel is affectionately known as “Drakies” and has been in service since being built in Durban by what was then the Sandock Austral Shipyard and commissioned in November 1987.

Alongside her will be the Navy’s “white lady”. The hydrographic vessel SAS Protea has been in service since her commissioning in 1972 and is also due for replacement. Tenders have been requested for a new hydrographic vessel and an Armscor evaluation has seen Durban- based Southern African Shipyards named the preferred bidder. A number of events have been planned for Durban around Armed Forces Day on Tuesday, February 21, when President Jacob Zuma will take the salute during an SANDF parade at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Valour Class frigate SAS Amatola (F145) will be in the English Channel at the site of the DSAS Mendi’s sinking 100 years ago to mark the centenary. The SANDF was planning to have a live broadcast from there to Durban but no further information was available at the time of publication. Other events planned for Durban include a night shooting capability demonstration as well as a live capability demo, a music concert and various career related exhibits.

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