Written by Kim Helfrich
One of the SA Navy‚Äôs refurbished offshore patrol vessels (OPV), SAS Galeshewe, has taken up station in the Mozambique Channel replacing the Valour Class frigate SAS Amatola.
Amatola is safely back in Simon‚Äôs town following a four month patrol tasking as part of South Africa‚Äôs commitment to the three nation Operation Copper anti-piracy effort off the lower continental east coast.
SA Navy spokesman Captain Jaco Theunissen confirmed the 62 metre long OPV had taken up the duties performed since the beginning of February by Amatola.
Galeshewe is the first OPV to be assigned Operation Copper duties. Her deployment in the Mozambique Channel means three different classes of South African warship – the supply ship SAS Drakensberg and at least two of the Valour Class frigates have to date supplied the maritime ears, eyes and reaction forces to stop pirates venturing into Southern African Development community waters.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula indicated R585 million of the current defence budget has been allocated to Operation Copper. South Africa has partnered with Mozambique and Tanzania in this ongoing anti-piracy operation.
Galeshewe is rated for a top speed of 32 knots but at a more economical speed has an endurance of 3 600 miles. She is powered by four Maybach MTU diesel engines and has a pair of OTO Melara 76mm guns, two Oerlikon 20mm guns and two 12,7mm machine guns aboard. A sophisticated radar system along with a high-tech electronic warfare component makes her well suited for the interdiction of pirates.