SA Navy Criticised

In an open letter to Business Day, the South African Navy’s Chief Director for Maritime Strategy, Rear Admiral Bernhard H Teuteberg, responds to publicly expressed criticism of the South African Navy

Letting facts speak for themselves

I write this as a personal response to Terry Crawford-Browne ( Department’s demand indefensible, Letters, February 29). I strongly object to the lack of factual data contained in his correspondence. I therefore wish to place some facts at the disposal of your readers in order that they might form their own opinion of Mr Crawford-Browne’s continuous diatribe towards the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and SA Navy, over a number of years, in particular relating to the acquisition of ships, submarines and aircraft as foreseen by the approved and supported White Paper on Defence (1996) and Defence Review (1998).

My list of admirals in the SA Navy indicates that we presently have one vice-admiral, four rear-admirals and 14 rear-admirals (junior grade) serving. I would suggest that Mr Crawford-Browne refrain from basing his research on the utterances of a defunct and deregistered military trade union.

The statement that one of our three submarines “is already permanently disabled” is incorrect. I have personally reported to the parliamentary committee on defence on the matter and shown journalists the state of this submarine. The SA Navy is furthermore using this period to develop an in-house submarine refit capability, using the SAS Manthatisi as the first in class for this process.

The two fully operational submarines have produced more successful operational sea-hours than was originally envisaged by the Project Wills Logistics Support Analysis; certainly proof of the success and sustainability of the submarine system. The statement that it would require R1bn to repair the SAS Manthatisi is totally incorrect.

The SA Navy has had a frigate permanently on station within the northern Mozambique channel as part of the approved Southern African Development Community (Sadc) maritime security strategy, for at least the last year. In addition we have met all our operational and exercise commitments. In this regard the SA Navy has also exceeded the envisaged sea-days as expressed in the log support analysis for Project Sitron (frigates).

Our ships and submarines, including the men and women who serve in them, deserve more; including some recognition for the sacrifices they make to serve our country.

Our submarines were never bought to “protect fish”, but to serve as part of our “defensive posture”, by being a capable, successful and credible deterrence.

The department is underfunded in terms of the constitutional mandate of the SANDF, including the Defence White Paper (1996) and Defence Review (1998), and has been acknowledged by all political parties within our democratically elected Parliament. As a naval officer of about 38 years, I think the Somalia disaster cannot be resolved by military means alone. The military can, however, contain the resultant insecurity symptoms (piracy being one) while more lasting political, social and economic solutions are found.

Maritime security on the African continent is being addressed by means of the AU 2050-African Integrated Maritime Security Strategy, which calls for regional responses to regional maritime security issues. This calls for a Sadc response to maritime security in our region, including the movement of piracy in a southerly direction. As part of Sadc we try our best to ensure that our shipping lanes remain free from interference to support the ideals of a “developmental state”.

We need to ensure that our men and women who serve our country are provided with the appropriate tools and with the resources to maintain and sustain operations, to uphold our constitutional imperative.

Our minister is therefore exercising her responsibility to our country in requesting that the government commits further financial resources to the defence objectives.

R-Adm Bernhard H Teuteberg

Chief Director Maritime Strategy, SA Navy


Source: Business Day

Previous Article
Next Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *