A day at sea onboard the Type 209 submarine: The
SAS QUEEN MODJADJI 1
By Chief Director Maritime Strategy R Adm B.H.
Enquiries: 012 339 4222
On the 25th September 2012,
I had the honour, privilege and pleasure of accompanying
the SAS QUEEN MODJAJI 1 to sea, as part of her post
maintenance trials (PMTs), and in preparation for
Exercise ATLASUR. During this magnificent day at
sea, and under the sea, I once again confirmed some of
my own experiences at sea and gained some new
perspectives. I wish to share some of these
The Submarines as
the Ultimate Strategic Deterrence at Sea. Once
dived in the deeper water of southern False Bay,
with a number of commercial vessels in the area, it
once again dawned on me that although all the
vessels on the surface did not know that we were in
the area, we knew exactly where they were, using all
the sensors at our disposal. The submarine as
the ultimate deterrence, due to its inherent
stealth, gives South Africa a Navy of note.
R Adm B.H. Teuteberg walking towards the SAS
The Submarine as a
Highly Complex Culmination of Engineering Excellence.
I also was struck by the complex nature of the various
engineering disciplines (mechanical, electrical,
electronic, hydro-dynamic, etc) that are forged together
in creating the Type 209 submarine; perhaps the greatest
example of engineering excellence in forming a
successful and integrated system.
The Requirement for Highly Competent Members of one
Ship’s Company. Furthermore, I also realised that
this complex system would remain dead in the water if it
were not for the absolute competence and experience of
the individual members (representing all South Africans)
of the ship’s company, forged together as one team,
totally reliant on each other, and commanded by a
respected and inspiring Captain; in this case Commander
The Positive and
Constructive Inter-action between Members of the
Operational Sea Training Section Team and the Members of
the Ship’s Company. I was pleasantly surprised
to note the positive and constructive relationship
between the ship’s company and members of the
Operational Sea Training Team (OSTT), so ably led by
Commander Neville Howell. Whilst they were
responsible to put the SAS QUEEN MODJADJI 1 through a
number of evolutions, in order to confirm her Level of
Capability (LOC), they were always part of the solution
and never came across as just another inspection team.
BZ to the OSTT.
The Responsibility and
Loneliness of Command. At sea there is one man
(or woman) who can turn to no other person for advice;
he (or she) is called the Captain. I was impressed
by the absolute professional and inspiring leadership
displayed by Commander Handsome Matsane, the Captain of
the SAS QUEEN MODJADJI 1, in commanding his submarine.
His quiet confidence, competence and presence make me
proud and inspire me to do more to support those who go
to sea in ships and submarines, on our behalf! After
nearly 39 years in the SA Navy I can categorically state
that I will go to sea in submarines, as long as we
produce captains of the calibre of this man.
R Adm B.H. Teuteberg climbing down the hatch of the SAS
The most dangerous part of
this opportunity came later that evening when I had to
transfer from the casing of the submarine to a harbour
patrol boat whilst at sea. I managed to do so with
some dignity still intact but with some sadness as I had
to leave behind a submarine and its ship’s company that
had impressed me no end. The next day as light
rain descended over False Bay (Blessings from Above) I
realised that somewhere in the deep ocean the men and
women of the submarine squadron where representing us
all, without fanfare, but with pride and competence!
I trust that we will be able to grow the submarine
service with young South Africans willing and able to
make the sacrifice of serving onboard submarines in
defence of our country. Thank you Captain André De Wet
(Senior Officer Submarines) and the rest of your
Squadron! BZ SAS QUEEN MODJADJI 1.