SA Navy gets helping hand

A new team from Britain’s Royal Navy is due in South Africa next month to help train South African Navy officers to work in new ships and submarines, the Chief of the South African Navy, Vice-Admiral Johannes Mudimu, said on Monday.

The United Kingdom’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, is currently on a week-long official visit in South Africa.

The Royal Navy have been training South African Navy officers for the past 18 months on what Band described as ways to bring together man and ship.

“It basically ... makes a crew that can steam the ship properly, look after it, fight fires, deal with natural disasters [and] start to build on integration of weapons system and sensors,” Band said.

The training is part of efforts to keep the South African Navy on par with the rest of the world, Mudimu said.

“So we are very proud of the quality of training and support and financial support that the Royal Navy is providing the South African Navy,” Mudimu said.

One of the officers trained in Britain is Captain Bravo Mhlana, who is due to take over command of the corvette the SAS Isandlwana. He will be the first black African to command a warship in the South African Navy.

“We got a bilateral agenda so that we can see bring the South African Navy along in the brotherhood of world navies, being an absolute crucial part off it,” Band said.

He said it was increasingly necessary for world’s navies to work closely together to combat threats at sea.

“I think people are increasingly becoming aware that actually, the engine for growth of the world economy, the key medium if we are actually to benefit from globalisation, is the high seas,” he said.

“There are bad men at sea whether they are pirates, whether they are crooks, whether they are smuggling drugs, whether they are smuggling people, whether they are terrorists ...
this is an international issue we have to work together on,” Band said.

He said that the type of capabilities the South African Navy has bought and are developing in terms of new corvettes and submarines, as well as its role in Africa, makes it an important partner.

Band is due to meet fleet officers in Simonstown later in the week.—Sapa

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