Publication: Noseweek Issued: Date: 2006-04-01 Reporter: Martin Weltz Reporter:

Confuzed Shell came Close to Blowing up our Own Ship, says Naval Gazers




April 2006, Issue 78


Martin Weltz


Recently, while sharing a pipe with a fellow soak from navy days – you didn’t know? – Mr Nose got talking about those allegedly dud shell fuzes that local arms company Reutech is said to be flogging to India and other potential belligerents.

So it came that he was reminded that shells with uncannily similar defects were already a serious issue in the SA Navy way back in the Eighties and early Nineties. Those shells weren’t only prematurely triggered by the cellphones of sailors calling their lovers, as has now been alleged (they’d deserve to get their heads blasted off), but also by the launching ship’s own radar that was supposed to be guiding the shells to their target!

All that saved the ship which was firing the shells from self-destruction was the shells’ arming mechanism. That was ever so fortunately set to become active only some milliseconds after firing, so that they could only be triggered – and explode – a safe distance from the ship. The navy spent many millions trying to fix the premature explosion problem. If the latest story is to be believed, they may not have succeeded.

While we’re busy scandaling about Reutech, remember how, in October 2003, a team of Reutech thugs raided the premises of the SA Defence Force’s once favourite friend, Richard Young, and drove off with a bakkie-load of computer consoles (built for the navy’s new ships at a cost of mega-millions) without paying for them? (See nose51.) At the time Reutech brazenly claimed they were within their rights. They weren’t. Reutech Radar Systems last year saw a secret arbitration hearing on the subject going horribly wrong, and quietly paid Young’s CCII R15m for the consoles, plus many more millions in interest and legal costs. So Mr Nose’s navy friends say – and they are never wrong.

With acknowledgement to Noseweek.