Serving the Economies of the Region and World
- No less than 98% of South Africa's international trade moves by
- Approximately 11 shipping lines are active on the West African
Coast, calling at RSA Ports whilst approximately 7 shipping lines
have a dedicated liner service to the Indian Ocean Islands.
- Approximately 56 shipping lines operate dedicated liner services
to and from RSA Ports to destinations worldwide. Approximately 36
ship agencies are presently economically active in the RSA caring
for merchant vessels, their cargo and crew of the shipping lines
The approximately 140 million tons of cargo handled
on average during a financial year is carried by more than 8 900
vessels. Other vessels calling at South African ports number total more
than 4 200 per annum, which include foreign fishing vessels, trawlers
and service vessels.
Approximately 13 500 vessels berth at South African
Ports per annum with an average gross registered tonnage of 515,2
Maritime Regional Co-Operation
One of the challenges which the RSA is facing within the changing
strategic environment in the region is the emerging concept of common
security. As adopted by the states in the region, this goal has been
taking shape in the region, this goal has been taking shape under the
forums of the SADC and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Other
initiatives on security and development include the Association of
African States (ASAS) as well as the Inter-State Defence and Security
Committee (ISDSC) with its sub-committee, the Standing Maritime
The admission and membership of the RSA's 'Rainbow Democracy' to
these bodies emphasises South Africa's acceptance as a regional partner
with an important role to play. At the inaugural meeting of the Standing
Maritime Committee hosted by the then Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral
Robert Simpson-Anderson in Pretoria in July 1995, three cardinal
concerns were raised by the members present.
Firstly the vulnerability of the region to potential threat to sea
lines of communication; secondly, the protection of the landlocked
member states' interests and privileges in the maritime field and,
thirdly, that urgent co-operation should include:
- Protection of marine resources
- Ability to respond to pollution contingencies
- The need for hydrographic, search and rescue services
- The combating of illegal immigration, drug and arms trafficking
According to military writer Helmoed Römer-Heitmann,
the resources available to watch over and protect this vast area against
oil pollution, illegal fishing, smuggling, narcotics smuggling, gun
running, illegal immigration and piracy is very limited - with the
exception of some capacity on the part of the RSA, Kenya and Gabon.
However, he writes, "there is an unco-ordinated assortment of
patrol vessels and patrol aircraft - many of which are not fully
Having thus sketched some of the imperatives for
regional maritime co-operation including some of the concerns in this
regard, it is clear that the countries of the region have a real vested
interest in the waters around them.
It should also be pointed out that they are unable to
protect these very assets and essential trade - which makes it a
demanding challenge for the socio-economic development of the region as
In addition to its primary task, the SA Navy carries out the
- International relief operations
- Regional assistance operations
- Assistance to State or Provincial authorities
SA Navy in the regional context
The SA Navy has, for many years, offered assistance and co-operation
to other African navies in a regional context. For example, Namacurra
harbour protection boat was donated to the Malawi Navy for use on Lake
Malawi and to the Water Wing of the Namibian Defence Force.
During 1990, naval ships provided material assistance to Zaire by
repairing and upgrading their harbour facilities.
In 1992, SAS Drakensberg went to the aid of the Department of
Environmental Affairs and Tourism vessel, SA Agulhas, stranded in the
Antarctica with a broken rudder.
Assistance has also been provided to Namibia with the apprehension of
foreign fishing trawlers. Assistance is also given to other African
countries where SA Navy ships carry out fisheries surveys and patrols on
their behalf during operations such as Interop East and West.
Members of other African navies are regularly invited to attend
training courses at SA Navy training units and on board ships. For
instance, a group of officers from various African navies accompanied
SAS Outeniqua to Antarctica during Operation Southern Lights VII in
1997. Where possible, exercises are also carried out with other African
and Indian Ocean based navies, including French Navy ships based on
Donations of medical supplies have been delivered to the Comores and
Hundreds of tons of relief aid were also conveyed to help Somali and
Rwandan refugees. SA Navy members have also been deployed to Burundi and
the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Several successful goodwill voyages have also been undertaken to
encourage regional co-operation.
The SA Navy regularly assists local authorities in areas such as with
fire fighting, the rescue of stranded dolphin and whale, harbour
clearance (including body recovery) and small craft salvage.
In 2001, SA Navy divers assisted in Mozambique with the rescue of
hundreds of people following floods that devastated huge areas of that
In the financial year 2001/2002, the SA Navy came to the rescue of
over 50 small craft and fishing craft averaging a rescue per week for
the year. Other rescues included the rescue by SAS Protea of fishermen
trapped on Gough Island and the recovery of a sick weatherman from
Marion Island by SAS Outeniqua.
Also in 2002 two Namacurra harbour protection boats were donated to
the Water Wing of the Namibian Defence Force.
SAS Outeniqua regularly assists the Department of Environmental
Affairs and Tourism with their Antarctic programme and has paid a number
of visits to the ice over the years rendering assistance to both the old
and the new SANAE bases there.