Arms deal commission: Frigates for World Cup, Obama

2013-08-26 16:53

Rear Admiral Philip Schoultz finished his testimony at the arms deal commission today.

Here are five things worth knowing about the frigates and submarines which, "critics" say, are docked and underutilised in harbours.

1. The frigates were used when US President Barack Obama visited Robben Island in June. One was placed in Table Bay as a precaution. The navy was called upon by the VIP Protection unit to be on standby in case the Obamas would need to be evacuated promptly.

2. Frigates and submarines were used in safeguarding the 2010 Fifa World Cup by surveying harbours for early detection of dangerous changes in the sea. He explained that tour operators were also briefed if accommodation became a problem so that ships could be turned into "floating hotels" for tourists.

3. Submarine SAS Manthatisi has been in repair in Simonstown since May/June 2012. Such repairs take up to 30 months. But, according to Schoultz, even at this time the submarine is being used as a deterrent, hence fulfilling its purpose.

4. Between 2005 and 2013 the navy trained about 4 042 staff members. The admiral added that it was problematic getting and retaining the skills because very few volunteers undergo technical training. Those who do undergo technical training are very soon poached by the broader economy.

5. After about eight to nine years the navy still has not fully mastered the technology. Even now, it is still in the process of developing a detailed understanding of many of the frigate systems.

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