The arms deal again

In the Mercury of December 2, 2008, the Mercury’s Idler columnist reports having been to the Cobb Inn on the wild coast for a couple of days holiday. He notes that he saw what he believes to be an illegal trawler operating just off the coast at night, without any navigation lights. He reports that the locals say that this is a regular occurrence.

I have mentioned in these pages before, the controversy involving the Navy’s desire to order new vessels for coastal patrol, which comes in spite of their recent acquisition of four frigates, which are apparently not suitable for the purpose. The Mercury of December 3, 2008, reports that, in a speech by the chief of the Navy on the previous day, it was announced that the Navy intends to buy six additional patrol vessels valued at nearly R2 billion, and also a strategic sealift and sustainment vessel. The acquisition of these items will apparently put the South African Navy on track to becoming the continent’s most formidable naval force.

I’ve asked the question before, and no doubt will again, exactly what enemy it is that the Navy was expecting to fight. In my opinion, the new patrol vessels are probably exactly what was needed in the first place and that there was absolutely no need to buy the very expensive and highly sophisticated frigates which, according to some reports, the Navy can’t afford to run anyway. Those who ordered the frigates must have received some benefit and/or been so determined to strike a pose that they were quite prepared to waste R6 billion of our money.

There may be one good item of news in all this and that is that the local ship building industry may receive a benefit from the order for the new vessels.

The paper also reported that, once again, a tall vehicle has come to grief when trying to go under the low bridge which carries Greville Racecourse over the roadway. There is a wonderful picture of a military vehicle which had apparently been towing a refrigerated trailer which had beent totally destroyed, when it tried to drive under the low bridge. The picture shows Samil 50 vehicle, which had apparently just fitted under the bridge, and the wrecked trailer lying behind.


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