I’ve always had a fascination with the Navy, and no it isn’t deeply routed in the romance of the uniform (although that does help), but rather in the bravery that encompasses this unit in any Defense Force, with the challenges that they face out at Sea. From Frigates to Submarines, Aircraft Carriers to Patrol Boats – I’m intrigued and drawn.
Which meant than an offer to spend a morning onboard a naval vessel did not have me holding back. The vessel was a Minesweeper, commissioned in 1981 and with the specific purpose of searching for underwater mines and defusing them. Armed and certainly capable of defending its position, this pale grey beauty has an inutterable charm.
Above My Captain Oh Captain, and below his Second in Command doing the Safety Briefing before we launched.
Armed and wonderfully capable.
Strength in her design and detail, she is Christened Umdloti and is capable of taking a crew of up to 48 Sailors, the only restriction being the amount of fresh water and food that they can carry, making two weeks the longest they can be offshore at maximum capacity.
The confidence with which the seamen moved about, up and down stairs, around the edges, clear and direct and without a tinge of green left me in envy. I did manage the day without a close-up and personal with said green bucket, but it would be true to say that I cannot yet claim have found my sea-legs.
Until I do, admiration and respect to the entire SA Navy, who do deserve it, and special thanks to our hosts for the day. True gentlemen that did their uniforms proud.
Now next on my wishlist – a trip on a submarine. You see I’ve learnt that there is absolutely no harm in dreaming …