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South African Navy (SAN)

The Role of the SA Navy. Policy guidelines for the SA Navy are given by the Constitution, the White Paper on Defence (approved on 8 May 1996), are the first phase of the Defence Review passed by Parliament on 20 August 1997. Formally, the mandate is to conduct naval operations to defend the RSA and to support the maintenance of the sovereignty of the RSA. Informally, the people of the RSA expect the SA Navy to contribute to the promotion of the RSA's safety and security, as well as its maritime interests and assets.

In the mid-1990s, the South African Navy (SAN) was a 4,500-person uniformed force, including 300 women. The navy is commanded by a vice admiral, the chief of the navy. The chief of the navy is assisted by a chief of naval operations and a chief of naval support; the latter two positions are filled by rear admirals. Naval headquarters are at Pretoria, although most important elements of the navy are at the navy's two bases at Simonstown and on Salisbury Island, near Durban. In addition to the headquarters organization and bases, the command structure includes seven naval units, flotillas, and independent ships. Naval units are stationed in Johannesburg and Pretoria and at several of South Africa's major ports.

Naval officer training is provided at the South African Naval College in Gordon's Bay, near Simonstown. Basic training is provided at the nearby South African Naval Staff College and on the SAS Saldanha . Technical naval training is provided on the SAS Wingfield , and advanced combat and other nontechnical specialist training is provided on the SAS Simonsberg . After completing an initial period of service with the navy, voluntary service personnel separating from active duty are assigned to one of the seven reserve naval units.

Command and Control over the SA Navy is exercised by means of centralised direction and decentralised execution. Centralised direction is provided by Naval Headquarters while decentralised execution is exercised via the second level of command of Chief of Naval Operations and Chief of Naval Support, who respectively command the Navy's operations and support units. In addition to the above the Chief of Naval Operations is also the designated ship operating authority and as such he exercises operational command over all operations conducted by the SA Navy ships and submarines.

The SA Navy's macro-organisational structure consists of Naval Headquarters, which is situated in Pretoria, two second-level line commanders, the Chief of Naval Operations and Chief of Naval Support, whose headquarters organisations are co-located within Naval Headquarters, 24 shore units (inclusive of seven Citizen Force units) and 24 ships and submarines. In addition to these structures the SA Navy has a maritime co-ordination centre, the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC), located at Silvermine in the Western Cape, three communications centres and three radio stations.

The combat ships of the SA Navy are organised in squadrons with administrative headquarters that provide immediate support services. SAS SCORPION provides support to the Strike Craft. SAS CHAPMAN supports the mine hunters and minesweepers, and SAS HUGO BIERMANN similarly supports the submarines. The Combat Support Ships (CSSs) are larger vessels used to support task forces at sea and are self accounting. SAS CHAPMAN provides limited systems management support services to these vessels.

The navy is organized into a submarine flotilla, which possesses three Daphne-class submarines, a surface-strike flotilla with nine Minister-class 450-ton missile craft, and a mine countermeasure flotilla with four River-class mine hunters and four Ton-class minesweepers. A life extension project for the Ton Class minesweepers was launched to ensure that these vessels remain operationally effective until the year 2015.

The navy helped to celebrate South Africa's return to the international community in the mid-1990s, when a growing number of foreign ships docked at South African ports. The January 1994 visit to Simonstown by the HMS Norfolk was the first British Royal Navy visit in twenty-seven years. A month later, the French frigate FNS Germinal made the first official visit by a French vessel in nineteen years. In November 1994, two United States vessels, the USS Gettysburg and the USS Halyburton, received a twenty-one-gun salute in Simonstown in the first call by United States Navy ships in twenty-seven years.

South African ships also participated in joint naval exercises in 1994, the first in twenty years. In June 1994, a 6,000-ton fleet replenishment ship, the SAS Drakensberg , took part in exercises with the British Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. The South African Navy also carried out joint exercises with the Argentine, Brazilian, and Uruguayan navies in May 1995. In addition, maritime training involved ships and aircraft from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain.

The navy has performed coast guard duties and search-and-rescue missions throughout its history, and is preparing for increased responsibilities during the late 1990s, primarily to protect the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and to combat smuggling and maritime narcotics trafficking. South Africa's navy is also in demand by other African governments; in the early 1990s, for example, South African personnel performed naval facility repairs for Zaire, marine surveys for Mozambique, and relief-supply transport to Kenya for shipment to Somalia and Rwanda.

With no foreseeable conventional threat existing against South Africa, a large emphasis will be on humanitarian support within South Africa and further afield within Africa itself. This support can take the form of peace keeping and peace building operations during and after time of conflict in the country concerned, or to assist in relief operations during natural and man-made disasters.

Forces are more effective when operating jointly or as part of a multi-national force. This means that the forces are to be connected in order for information to flow for correct and speedy decisions to be made. The SA Navy will need to ensure that its information systems are interoperable with those of the other Services of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and with the other Navies with which it is likely to operate in multi-national operations. The internal information network is to ensure speedy and accurate flow of information.

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Page last modified: 13-10-2016 11:58:13 ZULU