This weekend (Match 17 to 19) sees the SA Navy open its doors as well as its bulkheads and hatches to the public when the annual Navy Festival takes place in Simon’s Town.
It is also widely accepted as commemorating the establishment of the naval arm of what is today the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1922, making the SA Navy 85 years old.
In terms of its Constitutional mandate the SA Navy is tasked to defend and protect the country’s coastal border and trade routes, conduct patrols and operations, execute humanitarian work and conduct hydrographic surveys. All these tasks need state-of-the-art equipment and trained highly, specialist personnel.
The Navy Festival showcases these skills giving South Africans a better understanding of the essential component of the SANDF.
Visitors to the east dockyard at fleet headquarters will be able to tour naval vessels including Valour Class frigates, Heroine Class submarines and mine counter-measures vessels, view multi-capability anti-piracy demonstrations by the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) and “get wet” on patrol and tug boat rides.
Festival goers will also have the opportunity to board the Royal Navy patrol vessel, HMS Clyde, currently visiting South Africa.
In addition to outdoor and indoor displays of a working harbour an arena programme will provide military entertainment and music. Gun runs, precision drill displays and firefighting demonstrations as well as the Super Lynx specialist maritime helicopter showing its search and rescue abilities, are only some highlights.
Others are a ceremonial sail past, a retreat ceremony and a night shoot on Saturday from the Lower North Battery. The SA Air Force’s Silver Falcons aerobatic team are also scheduled to give displays during the festival to which entrance is free.
“There will be plenty to see, do, eat and drink so bring the family armed with sun protection, comfortable shoes and spend the day celebrating the capabilities of the SA Navy – a navy for the people,” said Lieutenant Commander Portia Mogotlhe.
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