Big Navy showcase in Bay

2016-02-03 06:00
Night firing exercise in Simon’s Town, Cape Town. A similar night firing demonstration will take place in Port Elizabeth on February, 18 as part of Armed Forces Week. Photo: SUPPLIED

Night firing exercise in Simon’s Town, Cape Town. A similar night firing demonstration will take place in Port Elizabeth on February, 18 as part of Armed Forces Week. Photo: SUPPLIED

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THOUSANDS of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members including SANDF commander-in-chief President Jacob Zuma are expected to be in Nelson Mandela Bay for the fourth annual Armed Forces Week which takes place this month.

As part of Armed Forces Week, there will be various events leading up to Armed Forces Day which is celebrated on February 21.

This year, the events have been planned by the South African Navy and will provide a range of Navy platforms open to the public.

Armed Forces Week also commemorates the day of the country’s single largest naval disaster, the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on February 21, 1917. The ship was rammed by the SS Darro and 616 members of the SA Native Labour Corps died.

SANDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, said Armed Forces Day is a day of honour.

“Armed Forces Day is new; it started in 2012 as a day where we honour the SANDF and think of those who have lost their lives. We also acknowledge those in the SANDF who have excelled.”

“We are excited about this year’s events being in PE because it will be the first time that the SA navy will be showcasing their capabilities. The events were previously conducted inland but this is the first time it will be coas-tal.”

There will also be various activities where the SANDF will visit townships in the Bay and interact with the youth.

“We also have sporting activities, community projects and career exhibitions where we will be informing the youth about careers in the SANDF and the requirements. We will also visit nearby townships and interact with the community,”Mabanga said.

There will be seven warships and a submarine available for the public to view at the Port Elizabeth harbour on February 13 and 14. There will also be fan parks at Kings Beach from February 17 to 21 where there will be a large display of military equipment.

The main parade held on February 21, will include a flypast by the SA Air Force and various elements of the SA Military Health Service taking part in the parade. There will be a three-day rehearsal leading up to the main parade where a military march will be held in Summerstrand.

Navy Spokesperson Commander Greyling van den Berg said they chose to have the event in the Bay because the navy is not as well-known in Port Elizabeth as it is in Cape Town. He added that the military exercise as part of Armed Forces Week, will be one of the most unforgettable experiences and it is all free of charge.

“This will be the biggest military demonstration the country has seen since the dawn of democracy.

“There will be the firing of the weapons from helicopters. On February 18, we will have a night firing exercise close to the Summerstrand pier.

“We will have warships and there will also be the fleet replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg, which is currently the largest ship built for the SA Navy with a displacement of 12,500 tons and a length of 147 metres.”

He added that the venue and times for other Armed Forces Week events are still being finalised.

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