Last strike craft leaves Durban

Jan 4, 2003
Author: P&S

Naval Station Salisbury Island paid a ceremonial farewell to its last active strike craft at end of November, when SAS Adam Kok (P1563), under the command of Commander Jasper van der Westhuizen, headed out of port on Saturday 30 November, bound for her new homeport of Simonís Town.

On the previous afternoon the strike craft received a grand send off from Salisbury Island, which had been downrated earlier in 2002 from a naval base to a naval station. The only vessel of its type remaining in Durban is the class forerunner SAS Jan Smuts (P1561), which is mounted on the naval synchrolift, where the ship is being cannibalised for spares. SAS Jan Smuts is likely to be disposed of some time in the future.

SAS Adam Kok (formerly SAS Frederic Creswell) performed several rescue operations during her service, including the search for the wreckage of a SAAF Buccaneer maritime aircraft, which crashed off the South African coast in 1979, as well as the rescue of a seriously injured Polish seaman off the West Coast in that same year.

She was the last of three missile carrying strike craft to be built in Israel between 1977 and 1978 as modified Reshef class (Saar IV) vessels. A further six were subsequently built in Durban between 1978 and 1986. For many years the group of strike craft formed the backbone and main surface armament of the South African Navy.

The navy currently (December 2002) has seven strike craft based at Simonís Town. SAS Rene Sethren (P1566, ex SAS Oswald Pirow) was decommissioned in 2001 and SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565, ex SAS Frans Erasmus) was homeported at Simonís Town earlier in 2002.

The strike craftís main armament consists of up to eight Skerpioen surface to surface missiles - a missile derivative of the Israeli Gabriel SSM, which is backed up by two 76mm OTO dual-purpose guns and other secondary weapons.

Their designed maximum speed is 34.5 knots with a range of 3 600 nautical miles at economical speed on two engines. Each vessel has four 16-cylinder turbo-charged diesel engines driving four stainless steel shafts with fixed-pitch propellers and producing 12,000bhp.

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