The SA Navy (SAN) appointed board of inquiry (BOI) into the September incident resulting in three deaths when a training exercise involving a submarine and a maritime helicopter went badly awry is still not finalised.
SAS Manthatisi (S101) was transiting from her home port Simon’s Town to Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront ahead of a mini- navy festival and was apparently tasked with various drills, including a VertRep (vertical replenishment) from a Super Lynx 300 operated by 22 Squadron out of Air Force Base (AFB) Ysterplaat.
Rough seas exacerbated the difficulty of the drill which saw the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) called on for assistance.
The SAN personnel who died in the incident were 33-year-old Lieutenant Commander Gillian Hector, Manthatisi Executive Officer (XO), Master Warrant Officer William Mathipa (48) and Warrant Officer Class One Mmokwapa Mojela (43).
The BOI, standard procedure for accidents and incidents across the four services of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), was to have completed its work by 10 November, the day it was given an extension with no date attached. At the time the BOI started work – 11 October – SAN Public Relations indicated its outcome would be “shared within the prescripts of the law and in line with SANDF policies and procedures”.
This publication was told by Commander Theo Mabina, Acting Senior Staff Office, SAN Public Relations: “Internal processes relating to the extensive investigation are still underway”.
The completed BOI report was sent to the convening authority, SAN Chief, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese on 7 December. He is currently carrying out the review process intended to check, reconcile and ensure compliance with the convening authority terms of reference.
“SANDF legal officials will subsequently review the board to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Once the evaluation processes are finished, the Chief of the SAN will brief the Chief of the SANDF, who will in turn brief the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.
“The Board will not be considered finished until all these processes are completed,” Mabina told defenceWeb in a written response.