SAS DRAKENSBERG’S FIRST 25 YEARS: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE SA NAVY’S FOREMOST GREY DIPLOMAT, 1987–2012

  • Andre Wessels University of the Free State

Abstract

The South African Navy (SAN)’s first (and thus far only) purpose-builtcombat support ship, SAS Drakensberg, was commissioned on 11 November 1987.In this study, the ship’s first 25 years of service (1987–2012) to the SAN (and thepeople of South Africa) was analysed, with special reference to her role as a greydiplomat (i.e. the flag-showing cruises she undertook and her concomitant role instrengthening diplomatic and other ties with many countries). The Drakensberg’sother peace-time roles were also be reviewed, including –– humanitarian and related relief expeditions;– her role during exercises with other SAN warships as well as ships andsubmarines from other navies, both in South African waters and across theglobe;– her role as a training ship;– ceremonial duties; and– lately also in anti-piracy patrols.Throughout the study, the Drakensberg’s activities were evaluated againstthe background of the changing political and other developments in South Africa, aswell as internationally. In the article, it will be indicated how and why a ship thatwas conceived, designed and built in the apartheid era, in due course became themost prominent, most visible and most successful warship that thus far has been inSAN service.
Published
2013-11-19
Section
Articles