SAS Outeniqua, the SA Navy's largest combat support / ice-breaking vessel was decommissioned at a sunset parade on Friday 30 July 2004, in the East Dockyard Simon's Town, after rendering 11 years of quality service to the SA Navy.
She was launched at the Kherson shipyards in the Ukraine on 6 September 1991 as the Alexander Sledzuk. After 12 months service as the Juvent, she was purchased on behalf of the SA Navy on February 26 1993, as a replacement vessel for the ageing fleet replenishment vessel SAS Tafelberg. On June 8, 1993, the vessel was commissioned into the SA Navy as SAS Outeniqua. In 1994 modifications to the hanger, flight deck, replenishment at sea equipment and the fitting of light armament were done in order for the ship to fulfill her role as a combat support ship.
During her service, she took part in numerous local and international military exercises. In addition to this she was used for the following missions in support and on behalf of the government and the people of South Africa:
- As a platform for peace talks in the then Zaire (now DRC) in 1997. The talks were initiated by the then President Nelson Mandela between the warring factions in order to bring a peaceful change to the country.
- Delivery of the world's largest mobile hospital and emergency supplies to Trieste, Italy for the victims of the war in Boznia-Herzegovina in 1993. This delivery included the opportunity for the ship to take passage through the Suez Channel during the voyage.
- She assisted the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on various occasions including the transporting of personnel and materials for the rebuilding of the SANAE IV Base in Antarctica during the latter half of the 1990s.
In 2001 she was on a passage to Australia when she was recalled due to the US 9-11 crisis. On her way back in the area of La Reunion, she assisted in the rescue of a sailor from a Greek vessel with medical problems and airlifted the member to a hospital on the Island of La Reunion.
She had a full displacement of 21 025 tons and a length of 166 metres. She could attain a maximum speed of 17,5 knots and her crew totals 126 (including 17 officers and air force personnel). She had an ice-breaking capability of 1 meter at 1,5 knots.
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