OPERATION KETANE - West Coast Patrol Operation Corona (Maritime)

Article and photos by Petty Officer Sthembiso Makuleni

As part of Operation (Op) KETANE deployment of the SA Navy Frigate SAS AMATOLA to Europe, the vessel conducted Op CORONA on departure from Simonís Town until crossing the RSA/Namibian boarder at the Orange River on the 16th and 17th January 2017. This was done by patrolling the area at a distance of approximately 12 nautical miles from land.

Maritime borders safeguarding operations include the control of illegal movement of people and goods across the RSA international border line, apprehension of undocumented unauthorised people and goods and the protection of RSA marine resources against illegal harvesting by local and foreign undocumented and /or unlicensed entities.

Buffers party personnel Petty Officer Lee-Roy Boezak assisting with launching of the boat with the divers on the boat.

The Officer of the Watch at the bridge with some of the members in the operations room were on look out at all times for any suspicious activity. The primary focus of the operation was intelligence gathering and reporting of any suspicious maritime activity happening in the area, while not delaying the passage of the ship to Europe.

Boat approaching SAS AMATOLA with divers about to inspect the hull of the ship.

Able Seaman Cody Nomdoc diving to inspect if there is any obstacle around the propeller.

An expected incident happened when a sound was heard coming from underneath the ship by Petty Officer Obakeng Leshupi while he was taking a break at the quarterdeck. He suspected that it could be a net caught on the propeller. The Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Yssel investigated and found that indeed there was a sound. The Officer Commanding was informed. The shipís shaft was locked and the boat crew and divers were immediately piped to go and investigate underneath the ship what could be the cause of the sound. After much search by the divers nothing was discovered. The suspicion was that the net could have untangled itself due to the heavy swells while the ship was stationary. Members were pleased to hear an announcement by the Captain that the ship can now proceed as planned. The necessary intelligence information was gathered and no suspicious activity was discovered in the area of operation.

Able Seaman Cody Nomdoc and Able Seaman Philip Gous reporting to their senior after inspecting the hull of the ship.

Radar Operator Petty Officer Yolandi Breytenbach and Electronic Warfare Operator Leading Seaman Phandilifa Mbale seated with their supervisor, Petty Officer Clive Manthata, behind them at the operation Room during Op Corona patrols.


Leading Seaman Anban Pillay at the bridge during Op Corona patrol en route to Europe.

Look put personnel Leading Gavin Gain conducting look-out duties during Op Corona.

While on route to Europe, Warrant Officer (WO) Class 2, Phineas Elaine David and WO Class 2, Sean Lendis celebrated their 20 years of service in the South National Defence Force (SA Navy). Both WOs joined the SA Navy on the 17 January 1997. The coincidence between the two WOs besides joining on the same day is the fact that they did Military Training for Ratings (MTR) Part 1, 2 and 3 together and they were in the same division during their training.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Phineas Elaine David during her 20 years of service celebration.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Lendis during his 20 years of service celebration.

When asked what kept her vitality through the years, WO David said she does not allow challenges to put her down even though she has been a Petty Officer for nine (9) years. She saw that as an opportunity to learn as much as she can and she can now use that experience as a WO. She further advised the upcoming sailors to have passion for what they do. WO Lendis said he appreciates the fact the he met his wife during basic training (not WO David) and he further advised the upcoming sailors to stop procrastinating when they need to do something as time waits for no one. The SA Navy wishes WO David and WO Lendis well on their 20 years of service and many more years in service of the Republic of South Africa.

Warrant Officer David and Lendis grateful for the opportunity they had to serve in the South African National Defence Force for 20 years.

The following days the ship conducted Damage Control Training (SAGA) in preparation for the British Operational Sea Training (BOST) and Exercise Good Hope VII while on route to Spain.