SAS Charlotte Maxeke arrives

Apr 30, 2007
Author: P&S

SAS Charlotte Maxeke in False Bay shortly after arriving on her delivery voyage from Germany. Picture Clinton Wyness

At first they were just specks on the horizon but as the strike craft, SAS ISAAC DYOBHA approached the rendezvous point two black conning towers emerged from the rain and mist and took the shape of the submarines SAS MANTHATISI (S101) and SAS CHARLOTTE MAXEKE (S102).

The place was False Bay and the time last Thursday, April 26 when the second new submarine of the South African Navy arrived home after her long delivery voyage from Germany.

The South African Navy flew a small group of journalists, including from Ports & Ships to Simon’s Town to witness the arrival and despite the adverse weather a strike craft and one of the new frigates, SAS MENDI were laid on to welcome the navy’s latest arrival and to take the journalists to sea. And as we made our way back to Simon’s Town the subs and frigate manoeuvred for photographers to record the moment.

Of significance that morning was this being the first time in many years that the navy had not one but three submarines at sea on the same day - the third boat was undergoing sea trials off Germany, albeit with a German crew on board.

S102 has been named Charlotte Maxeke in honour of a Griqualand West woman born in the 19th century who earned a degree in the United States and later returned to South Africa where she later became head of the Women’s Missionary Society. She went on to become involved in politics, becoming the first president of the Bantu Women’s League (BWL) which was formed in 1918 and was eventually honoured as ‘Mother of Black Freedom in South Africa.’

The submarine which carries her name is the second of three 209 class type 1400 MOD boats built in Germany for the SA Navy – the 1400 denoting their displacement. They are 62m long and 7.5m wide and diesel-electric driven with four diesel engines giving each a speed of 10 knots surfaced and 21.5 knots dived. The submarine is armed with 14 torpedoes.

She was commissioned in March 14 this year and sailed shortly afterwards for Simon’s Town in the company of the combat support ship SAS DRAKENSBERG, making a single stop along the way in Spain.

According to Captain Jorrie Jordaan, the Project Officer for the submarine project, ‘Charlotte’ (as the submarine is likely to become known and the submariners are apparently already calling her that) sailed submerged for much of the journey, providing the crew of 30 much practice and underwater experience.

The third submarine (S103), which has been named SAS QUEEN MODJADJI (Queenie?), is due to arrive in South Africa in April 2008.



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