Submarine visit strengthens UK naval ties

Oct 05, 2007
Author: Shaun Benton

HMS Sceptre. Picture Royal Navy

by Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

Cape Town, 4 October 2007 - British nuclear-powered submarine HMS SCEPTRE arrived from Australia at the Simonstown Naval Base yesterday (4 October) marking the first trip to South Africa by a British submarine in several years.

The officer commanding the British submarine, Commander Jim Perks, said the stopover in Cape Town was an ideal opportunity to further links with the South African Navy and in particular the South African Navy submarine service.

Commander Perks said interactions with the submarine force were aimed at furthering the links between the two countries' submarine services.

While British ships have made several visits, this is the first time in about three years that a British submarine has touched South Africa's shores.

"It's rare for us to come all this way to see the [South African Navy]," said Commander Perks.

There will not be any training involved in the current visit, but discussions will include the possibility of holding joint exercises some time in the future.

The nuclear-powered submarine can stop at only a handful of naval bases worldwide because it requires special berthing facilities. It has been at sea for two weeks, travelling directly from Australia.

HMS Sceptre had been away from the United Kingdom for eight months, with one month to go before returning to the UK in time for Christmas.

Commander Perks said because it is nuclear-powered it could continue a voyage indefinitely, with the acquisition of food being the only reason for the vessel to head to port.

As is protocol on such visits, Commander Perks would be visiting the SA Navy's operational commander, who is based at Simonstown, before introducing himself also to the local magistrate and the local councillor, Lieutenant-Commander Prince Tshabalala told BuaNews.

In the meantime, the British submariners serving on the somewhat battered vessel will be enjoying a two-day recreational outing in Cape Town, the HMS Sceptre's second-in-command, Lieutenant-Commander Justin Codd, said.



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