SA navy underfunded

By Drum Digital
15 March 2012

The SA Navy has been given a budget of R2.4 billion for 2012/2013, an amount which is still too low, budget officer Willem van Rooyen said on Thursday.

"The navy has been, at length, trying to indicate that we are underfunded," he told Sapa.

"However, this is well documented firstly, and secondly, the [defence] minister is fully aware of the underfunding."

The amount excluded a capital outlay of R56 million, which was not controlled by the chief of navy. The previous financial year's budget was R2.27 billion.

Van Rooyen said the aim was to spend 60 percent of the upcoming budget on human capital, and the remainder on operating costs.

Chief director of maritime strategy Bernhard Hein Teuteberg briefed reporters on the state of the navy at its Simon's Town base in Cape Town on Thursday.

He said the navy was small, but "first class", and able to meet all its commitments. Its four operational frigates and three submarines were still relatively new and "value for money".

Running marine equipment was, however, expensive. It required almost R89 million a year to keep a submarine operational for 30 years. For frigates it was R194 million a year.

"Are we, in terms of international norms being extravagant? The answer is a clear no," Teuteberg said.

Of concern were the offshore and inshore patrol vessels, which were between 15 and 32 years-old. He said they needed to be replaced.

He emphasised the importance of navy staff.

"Without the right people, the ship would be nothing."

Since 2008, we have managed to turn the story around. Each year we are gaining people, building a new navy."

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