SA navy deploys two ships
Erika Gibson, Beeld
Pretoria - The defence force, in conjunction with the government, has deployed two of the navy's ships in international waters over the past few weeks, amid growing political tension in West Africa and piracy in the Mozambique Channel.
These missions came after the defence force and the government were criticised over the past few months for having the ability to use new ships to assist in international matters, but preferring to keep them anchored in local harbours.
The SAS Drakensberg, the navy's resupply vessel, was deployed to West Africa about two weeks ago to provide support and especially help out should the political violence in the Ivory Coast necessitate the evacuation of the South African embassy in the country.
According to a recent article by Helmoed-Römer Heitman in Jane's Defence Weekly, the Drakensberg will stay in the area for a few weeks.
The ship is scheduled to return to South Africa at the end of February. The Drakensberg has two Oryx helicopters and probably also a contingent of the navy's rapid response forces and other specialist soldiers on board.
It appeared the ship was deployed out of fear of military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in the Ivory Coast.
At the same time, one of the navy's new frigates, the SAS Mendi, headed for Durban a week ago in anticipation of the signing of an agreement aimed at protecting Mozambique against piracy.