New SA Sub to be Launched
Tisha Steyn, Sapa
Cape Town - Another milestone in South Africa's multi-billion rand arms deal will be reached on Tuesday in Germany, when the SA navy's latest addition to its maritime arsenal is officially launched.
The first of the Type 209-class submarines, S 101, will be launched in Kiel by the chief of the navy, vice-admiral Johan Retief and his wife Helena.
"This is a unique occasion... where on the same day we launch (a vessel) and name another," said navy spokesperson commander Brian Stockton.
Stockton was referring to the official naming of the fourth patrol corvette, SAS Mendi, which will be christened by Helena Retief in the Kiel shipyard where both vessels were under construction.
Defence Minister Mosiua Lekota would not attend either ceremony.
The navy's Project Wills will see the acquisition of three Type 209 submarines to replace the decommissioned Daphne-Class submarines.
The Type 209-1400 SAN submarine is from the widely-used Type 209 stable, and according to a naval publication, the submarine is "a modern, conventionally-powered and highly capable" submarine.
According to Stockton, the strategy is to build and accept complete submarines in Germany and sail the fully operational vessels to South Africa, a "turn-key" approach.
The combat system is mainly of German design, but components would be largely manufactured in South Africa and shipped to Germany for installation and testing.
According to preliminary timeframes, the first submarine is expected to be delivered in 2005, the second in 2006 and the third in 2007.
Asked what would become of the retired Daphne-class submarines, Stockton said the navy was considering as one of several options the possibility of converting the SAS Assegaai and/or the SAS Umkhonto into a museum at Simon's Town.
The first decommissioned submarine, the SAS Spear, was sold as scrap metal.
South Africa is the only African country to effectively operate and maintain submarines.
With acknowledgements to Tisha Steyn, Sapa and News24.