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Update: South African Navy falls short on sea hours target due to funding constraints

Only one of the South African Navy's four Valour-class frigates, SAS Spioenkop , is currently operational. (Guy Toremans)

The South African Navy (SAN) is struggling to meet its operational commitments due to chronic underfunding, according to a recently published parliamentary portfolio committee report.

In its budgetary review and recommendations report for the Fiscal year (FY) 2020/2021, the South African Committee on Defence and Military Veterans said that ongoing funding shortfalls and the subsequent reduction in ship availability for taskings due to the postponement of planned maintenance meant that the SAN had been unable to meet its sea hours target for the year.

According to the report, in 2021 the SAN managed only 6.8 (the equivalent of around 284 sea days) of its target of 10 sea hours.

For the 2020/21 period, the navy's total budget allocation was set at ZAR4.738 billion (USD308 million), but this was reduced by ZAR221 million during the course of that period, the report said.

The cost estimate for the mid-life upgrades (MLUs) and refits of the SAN's four Valour-class frigates and three Heroine (Type 209)-class diesel-electric submarine (SSKs), as well as the maintenance and repair full cost requirement, was valued at ZAR1.470 billion, but only ZAR786 million was allocated for the same period. However, the average cost estimate for a single frigate refit is ZAR687 million, and that of a submarine is around ZAR660 million.

A SAN source told Janes that the planned maintenance and required repairs of the Heroine-class SSKs, SAS Manthatisi, SAS Queen Modjadji I, and SAS Charlotte Maxeke, and the Valour-class frigates, SAS Amatola, SAS Isandlwana, SAS Spioenkop and SAS Mendi, have been repeatedly postponed.

Manthatisi and Amatola

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