Historic change of command for navy frigate SAS Isandlwana

Feb 26, 2007
Author: P&S

An earlier picture of SAS ISANDLWANA before the fitting of her weapons and other equipment, seen with several strike craft in line astern and a Shackleton coastal reconnaissance aircraft of the South African Air Force Historic Flight patrolling overhead. Picture SAN. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

At a change of command parade held in Simon’s Town last Thursday, Captain Bubele ‘Bravo’ Mhlana took command of SAS ISANDLWANA, the second of four new frigates in the South African Navy, becoming in the process the first former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) operative to assume command of a major warship.

Captain Mhlana had previously commanded the minesweeper SAS Kapa and has served in other ships since joining the navy in 1994. In 1999 he attended Officers Course at the SA Naval College where he achieved Student of the Course and SA Legion Trophy for Leadership awards.

His later training included nine months attending the International Principal Warfare Officer (A) course with the British Royal Navy. For the past months he has served on SAS Isandlwana as Officer Commanding Designate during which he sailed with the ship on deployment to South America to take part in Exercise Atlasur VI involving the navies of Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina and later to take part in Expo Navale in Valparaiso, Chile.

Last Thursday he took command from Captain Karl Wiesner, the previous Officer Commanding SAS Isandlwana who went to Germany in 2002 to work with the ship and crew at the German shipyards. Captain Wiesner has previously commanded strike craft and attended the Naval Command Course at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he earned a diploma in National Security and Strategy and was awarded the Vice Admiral Doyle prize for International Law and Peacekeeping.

He will now deploy to Naval Headquarters in Pretoria to work in the field of combat capability.

Addressing the media before the parade, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu refuted claims that there is a shortage of people and skills in the modern navy. The claims had apparently been made recently in Cape Town and other newspapers suggesting that the navy was short of personnel to man its growing fleet.

Mudimu said that 650 recruits began their training at SAS Saldanha each year, which he said was in excess of the navy’s requirements.

“We have focused extensively on the development of competence and capacity in the South African Navy and of retaining such resources,” said Mudimu, adding that it was in support of this requirement that the navy had introduced incentive schemes for both technical and combat personnel.

Referring to the 650 recruits who begin their training at SAS Saldanha each year, “Here we equip matriculants with life skills and maritime competencies. These recruits are then utilised on our ships and within our shore bases, gaining valuable experience and expertise, able to serve them well both within the South African Navy, and more broadly in the formal and informal business communities.”

He said that on completion of their training those personnel that the navy requires are offered further contracts within the navy and others who don’t or choose not to sign up again have the benefit of the SA Navy Re-Deployment Agency with its established links with a number of largely maritime industries.

“This has proven to be most successful, with our recruits obtaining employment in a range of sectors and departments, including the South African Police Services.”


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