Two U.S. strike craft dock in Durban, crew witness Gandhi ash scattering

2010-02-02 00:00

HUNDREDS of maritime enthusiasts have flocked to catch a glimpse of two American warships that are docked in Durban Harbour on a routine deployment to the Indian Ocean.

The strike craft, the HSV 2 Swift and the U.S.S. Nicholas, enjoyed a four-day stop-over in the harbour to build relations with the South African Navy.

The HSV 2 Swift is an Australian- built catamaran, which has an impressive aluminium hull that can break through ice. The ship has a helicopter flight deck and a sophisticated communications room.

Its 50- member crew is made up of U.S. soldiers and African partnership staff.

The U.S.S. Nicholas, which has 200 soldiers on board, can reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h.

Crew members from the ships joined Mahatma Gandhi’s family this week when they released the last known remaining ashes of the Indian statesman into the ocean.

Captain Jim Tranoris of the U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, said the crew was honoured to participate in the ceremony, especially since Gandhi had influenced one of America’s greatest peace leaders, Martin Luther King.

“We are really privileged to have been included in this great event. South Africa is a great place and we are happy that we got an opportunity to work closely with the SA Navy.”

He said the strike craft had travelled through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, passing Mombasa and Tanzania before docking in Durban Harbour. “This is our second visit to South African waters. We are always made very welcome in this country, a reason we keep returning,” said Tranoris, adding that some of the crew would love to visit again for the 2010 World Cup.

The HSV 2 Swift and the U.S.S. Nicholas leave for Cape Town today.

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