formidable sub, last in trio, docks

Luzuko Pongoma

Luzuko Pongoma

The last of South Africa's seven high-tech navy vessels bought in the controversial megabillion-rand arms deals has docked in Simon's Town.

But the menacing submarine, Queen Modjadji, seemed far removed from the corruption scandal that has led to ANC president Jacob Zuma being charged with corruption.

The SAS Queen Modjadji arrived last Thursday morning at the Simon's Town naval base to great fanfare. The 36 crew under Commander Andrew Souma left Germany on April 2 and travelled underwater for most of the journey.

Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said the submarine's arrival was a milestone in rejuvenating the South African National Defence Force.

"The SAS Queen Modjadji joins the SAS Manthatisi and SAS Charlotte Maxeke," he said. "These submarines, with the [new] Meko-class frigates, constitute a formidable maritime force," he said.

Rear Admiral Hanno Teuteberg, director of fleet force operations in the South African Navy, said the submarine had seven deadly virtues, which included flexibility, fire power and autonomy. The vessel has a 30-year lifespan.

"We have a shortage of skilled, experienced technical staff," Teuteberg said. "Commercial companies are offering three times what we do.

"We should offer market-related salaries but people should not join the navy to get rich. We want patriotic people who want to see the world and have an adventure."

Lekota said the navy was recruiting young people to be trained to operate sophisticated technology such as that on the submarine