Jan 4, 2003
Navy corvette named
The SA Navy’s second Meko A200SAN corvette/frigate, which is being built at the Blohm+Voss shipyards in Germany, has been named Isandlwana at a ceremony held in Kiel in December, where Deputy Defence Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge performed the honours.
Isandlwana is number two in a series of four identical corvette/frigates being built in Germany for the navy at a cost of R6.9 billion (unescalated 1999 prices). The remaining two corvette/frigates, which will be named SAS Spioenkop and SAS Mendi, will follow at six monthly intervals.
According to navy spokesman Commander Brian Stockton, the four ships of the Valour class are being named after some of the most memorable events in South African history. The first ship, SAS Amatola has been delayed at the builders and is now due to be delivered to Simon’s Town by the middle of next year. Ironically, one of the reasons given by the authorities as to why these ships could not be built in South Africa was that they could not be produced locally on time!
Cmdr Stockton said the symbolism behind the naming did not lie in the battle or event itself, or who the victors were, but the extreme valour shown by the forces involved, both victors and the defeated.
“The name Isandlwana therefore symbolises the valour of those who participated in this historic battle. It also symbolises, on one hand, to protect our native soil while, on the other hand, the willingness to protect our country’s interests far from home if need be.”
The corvettes are in reality light frigates, and are multi-purpose and multi-capable vessels for executing various naval missions. The length of each ship is 121m, the beam overall is 16.34m and their displacement is about 3,800 tons. They operate with a design draught of about 4.4m.
Their combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion will provide a speed of about 27 knots and a range of around 4,000 nautical miles. The ships are being equipped to carry a crew of about 100 with additional space on board for 20 passengers. Each vessel is designed to carry a helicopter, although so far these haven’t been ordered for the navy. The contract for these is with AgustaWestland but has not been signed. The helicopter type identified is a Westland Super Lynx, which will considerably improve and extend the ship’s surveillance capability.
Routine tasks for these ships include:
Regular patrols for the protection of marine resources against poaching and pollution in the country’s Economic Exclusion Zone (which includes the Prince Edward group of Islands in the southern Indian Ocean).
Law enforcement at sea with respect to piracy and the smuggling of drugs, weapons and other contraband.
Search and rescue missions as far south as the Prince Edward Island group (Marian Island).
Providing gunfire and other support for land forces, as well as the transport of limited equipment and personnel in support of land action, especially during peacekeeping missions.