SA Navy frigate to commemorate sinking of SS Mendi

2017-01-09 19:25
SAS Amatola (Picture: Supplied)

SAS Amatola (Picture: Supplied)

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Johannesburg - The SA Navy will deploy a frigate to Europe and the west coast of Africa to commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi during the First World War, one hundred years ago.

The SAS Amatola, a Valour Class Frigate, would travel to the UK to commemorate the occasion, Lieutenant Commander Portia Mogotlhe said in a statement on Monday.

The SS Mendi, a troop ship carrying South African soldiers, sank in the English Channel near the Isle of Wight, following a collision with a cargo steamship on February 21, 1917. A total of 646 people died, most of them black South African soldiers, members of the South African Native Labour Corps.

The Amatola will participate in the British Operational Sea Training during the visit to England. It will then proceed to Germany for an exercise with the German Armed forces, Exercise Good Hope VII.  

The vessel will also conduct borderline protection patrols in South African waters and an anti-piracy patrol on the west coast of Africa. It would visit Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and Namibia.

It is set to depart from Simon’s Town on January 16 and arrive in Rota, Spain, on February 2 to refuel.

Between February 19 and 24, various activities will be held to commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi. Some of the relatives of the soldiers who died would go to sea with the SAS Amatola to lay a wreath where the SS Mendi sank.

Exercise Good Hope VII will take place between February 27 and March 5. Once completed, the Amatola will make a historic visit to Rostock (previously part of East Germany), before sailing back to Rota to refuel on March 19 and 21.  

The ship will then visit the following ports for diplomatic visits:

- Tema, Ghana from March 30 – April 3;
- Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from April 6 – April 8;
- Luanda, Angola from April 11– April 13;
- Walvis Bay, Namibia from April 17 – April 19.

The SAS Amatola is scheduled to be back in Simon’s Town on April 22.


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