In a heartfelt tribute to a fallen comrade, the South African Navy’s submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101) recently embarked on a poignant voyage in False Bay.
In a poignant ceremony that underscored the deep bonds of camaraderie and respect within the South African Navy, the submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101) recently embarked on a special mission to honour a fallen comrade.
Following the passing of a submariner from cancer, his dying wish to have his ashes scattered at sea was fulfilled by his fellow crew members.
The sailor, who has not been named, passed away from cancer earlier this year. The SAN agreed to help, and SAS Manthatisi went out to sea on Thursday morning to scatter the ashes.
The submarine sailed out to the serene waters of False Bay to scatter the ashes of the submariner who had tragically succumbed to cancer. His final wish was to be laid to rest in the ocean that he had dedicated his life to navigating.
As SAS Manthatisi sailed across the waves, a profound sense of camaraderie and respect echoed through the depths, paying tribute to a dedicated sailor and reminding us of the bond that unites those who serve in the navy.
History of SAS Manthatisi (S101) Submarine
The SAS Manthatisi, named after a courageous 19th-century Tswana queen; chief of the Batlokwa tribe is one of the three submarines in the South African Navy’s Heroine-class. Commissioned in 2005, these submarines were procured to bolster the country’s maritime defence capabilities and provide a strategic edge in safeguarding its vast coastline and maritime interests.
Designed for long-range patrols and stealth operations, SAS Manthatisi is a formidable force beneath the waves. With a displacement of 1,715 tons and a length of 62.2 meters, it is equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, advanced combat systems, and lethal torpedoes, making it a formidable player in the underwater realm.
Throughout its service, SAS Manthatisi has been an integral part of the South African Navy’s operations, contributing to maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, and intelligence gathering. Its dedication to preserving national security and safeguarding vital maritime trade routes has earned it a reputation as a reliable asset in the navy’s arsenal.
The submarine, built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft of Germany, replaced the French-built Daphné-class submarines, which were decommissioned in 2003. The Heroine-class submarines, including the SAS Manthatisi, are often considered South Africa’s first “true” submarines, as they were more suited to being underwater than the Daphné models.
The SAS Manthatisi has a storied operational history. It arrived in Simon’s Town on 8 April 2006, accompanied by the Valour-class Frigate, SAS Amatola (F145). The submarine distinguished itself during the NATO Exercise AMAZOLO, where it managed to penetrate an anti-submarine screen of seven ships, including two South African vessels.
However, the SAS Manthatisi has not been without its challenges. The submarine was withdrawn from service in 2007 and placed in reserve as part of the South African Navy’s plan to maintain only two out of its three submarines in service. It underwent a refit in 2010 and re-entered service in October 2014.
Funding Challenges for Refit and Maintenance
In recent years, the South African Navy has faced significant budgetary constraints, which have impacted the maintenance and refit of vessels like the SAS Manthatisi. The lack of funding has raised concerns about the operational readiness of the submarine fleet and the ability to carry out essential training and operations.
Despite these challenges, the SAS Manthatisi continues to serve as a symbol of the South African Navy’s resilience and commitment. The recent mission to honour a fallen sailor’s final wish is a testament to the submarine’s enduring legacy and the deep bonds of respect and camaraderie that define the South African Navy.
Despite its strategic importance, SAS Manthatisi, like many naval assets, faces a significant challenge – lack of funding for essential refit and maintenance. Over time, submarines undergo wear and tear, and periodic refits are necessary to ensure their operational readiness and extend their service life.
However, constrained defense budgets and competing priorities have hindered the timely and comprehensive refit and maintenance of SAS Manthatisi and other submarines in the fleet. As a result, these submarines often suffer from prolonged downtime, limiting their availability for critical missions and potentially compromising the navy’s capabilities.
The scheduled Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) for her had been scheduled for 2022, but not yet commenced over one year later. The planned schedule for ‘Refit 2’ is set for 2030, with her life decommissioning being scheduled for 2038.
Furthermore, the lack of adequate funding for technology upgrades can leave submarines susceptible to obsolescence. In today’s rapidly evolving naval landscape, staying ahead of technological advancements is essential to maintain a competitive edge and effectively counter emerging threats.
To address these challenges, it is imperative for the South African government to prioritize defense spending and allocate sufficient resources to maintain, modernize, and upgrade its submarine fleet. Investments in training and skill development for naval personnel are equally vital to ensure optimal performance and safety during operations.
The recent tribute paid by SAS Manthatisi to honor the dying wish of a submariner exemplifies the strong bonds forged among naval personnel. It is a testament to the unwavering commitment and camaraderie that define the men and women who serve in the South African Navy.
However, as the navy continues to fulfill its crucial role in safeguarding South Africa’s maritime interests, the challenges stemming from inadequate funding for refit and maintenance cannot be overlooked. It is incumbent upon the government and relevant authorities to recognize the strategic significance of submarines like SAS Manthatisi and invest in their long-term sustainability.
By providing the necessary funding for refit, maintenance, and modernization, the South African Navy can ensure that submarines like SAS Manthatisi remain a formidable force in the underwater domain, preserving national security and contributing to regional stability. In doing so, the navy can continue to uphold the legacy of its fallen comrades and reaffirm its commitment to protect the nation’s maritime frontiers.
The scattering of the sailor’s ashes is a fitting tribute to a man who served his country with distinction. It is also a reminder of the importance of the South African Navy’s submarine force, which plays a vital role in protecting South Africa’s maritime interests.