Damaged sub repaired
THAT damage caused to an SA Navy submarine by a collision with the ocean bed was minimal can be judged by the fact the boat will be ready for sea again this Friday.
SAS Queen Modjadji 11 returned under own power to her home port of Simon’s town following the mid-July incident off the east coast.
If she is tasked with any specific mission before the board of enquiry into the accident has completed its work she will again have Commander Thamsanqa Matsane at the helm. He took over command of the Type 209 diesel electric submarine from Commander Neville Howell in April this year.
In the South African military it is normally accepted practice for the commander of a ship or unit to remain in command until a board of enquiry has completed its investigation and made recommendations. These are then usually acted on by the command authority in terms of disciplinary and corrective actions.
“Relief of command usually only follows the outcome of the board of enquiry,” was the unanimous response of retired officers and military watchers polled by The New Age.
“Our situation is not the same as in America and England where ship commanders are summarily dismissed after incidents and accidents even while boards of enquiry are operational,” said defenceWeb’s Leon Engelbrecht.
Speaking six weeks after the collision from fleet headquarters at Simon’s town Navy Fleet public relations officer Commander Cara Pratten stressed the submarine did not go out of commission as a result of the incident.
“Non-destructive testing was conducted and the repair solution agreed by the Class Authority is being implemented. SAS Queen Modjadji 11 should be back in the water by Friday to prepare for and participate in the international naval exercises Atlasur 1V and Ibsamar starting in September.
“The repair involves the replacement of a small section of the submarine’s outer shield. The material is held in stock and the only cost is labour, which is minimal.”
The board of enquiry is expected to complete its work by the middle of next month.
Routine maintenance on the Navy’s second submarine, SAS Charlotte Maxeke, is still underway in the Armscor dockyard at Simon’s town and she is expected to be operational by October Navy spokesman Commander Prince Tshabalala said.
He could not put a timeframe on when the third and final submarine SAS Manthatisi would resume operational duties. The boat has been out of commission since 2005 and is also undergoing repairs in the Armscor dockyard.