SA submarine outwits Nato force

A lone South African submarine left some Nato commanders with red faces on Tuesday as it “sank” all the ships of the Nato Maritime Group engaged in exercises with the South African Navy off the Cape coast.

The S101—or the SAS Manthatisi—not only evaded detection by a joint Nato and South African Navy search party consisting of several ships combing the search area with radar and sonar, it also “sank” all the ships taking part in the fleet.

At several times during the exercise—which lasted throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning—a red square lit up the screens where the surface ships thought the submarine was. But it remained elusive.

This gave Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota something to brag about when he landed on the SAS Amatola on Tuesday to speak to the media

“To be able to frustrate detection by Nato nations is no mean achievement; it speaks of the excellence of the equipment we acquired for this purpose,” Lekota said.

And while this left one of the world’s strongest military alliances frustrated, it was also a sign that the group had a capable partner in Africa, Lekota said.

“With sustained inter-operability with foreign forces such as Nato, we are well positioned to respond to any unforeseen circumstances that may confront either ourselves or other regions,” he said.

Lekota was quite clear that a working relationship with Nato was desired.

“They have a partner of reliable capability because we are forging working relations here. We are building mutual confidence for what can be done and what we can do together as Nato and South Africa, or as Nato and Southern African nations,” Lekota said.

These sentiments were echoed by the commander of the Nato maritime group, Rear Admiral Mahon, who said the deployment would see the group sailing right around Africa.

“I can’t speak for what the future will hold but certainly this was valuable. Africa is a strategic continent. The freedom of the seas, energy, security, they are all critical issue to Nato countries,” he said.

The exercises would continue till the end of the week and would include, ship-to-ship refuelling, search-and-seizure exercises and various other scenarios faced by modern navies.—Sapa



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