A NEW BEGINNING FOR TWO RIVER CLASS MCM VESSELS
Photos and article by Seaman Martin Venter
On 8 February 2005 the commissioning
of the SAS Umkomaas and the change of command of
SAS Umhloti were held at S-Berth, SA Naval
Dockyard, Simon's Town. The South-Easter blowing 20
knots across the quay did little to dampen the obvious
excitement of ship's companies or spectators.
The parade commenced with the arrival
of Flag Officer Fleet, R Adm HvE Bester, who was
accompanied to the podium by the officers commanding
(designate), Cdr Richard Penn (SAS Umkomaas) and
Cdr George de Voogd (SAS Umhloti). After the
general salute, the Code of Conduct was read by
announcer WO2 Lorraine Holthauzen, after which Cpln
Fingo conducted the scripture reading and prayer.
Cdr Penn was then charged with
command of SAS Umkomaas by FOF and instructed to
commission the ship. After ensuring that he would
perform his duties with zeal and diligence, he ordered
the ship commissioned and watched proudly as the
national flag and ensign were hoisted for the first time
in more than 6 years. On completion of this ceremony, it
was the turn of Cdr De Voogd to take centre stage, where
he too was charged with command, this time of SAS Umhloti. Given that this is his first command, R Adm Bester
then placed the traditional gold "wings" on
Cdr De Voogd's uniform, a proud moment indeed.
Once the formalities were concluded,
both the new OCs and FOF were piped aboard SAS Umkomaas
to enjoy a light refreshment.
The RIVER class minehunters have been
an important asset to the Fleet and have conducted some
unusual tasks, including transporting the (then) Vice
Presidents Mbeki and Gore (of the USA) along with
various VIPs and journalists to Robben Island. In 1991,
sister ship SAS Umzimkulu participated as the
local platform in an international scientific programme
to establish the effects of global warming. Many other
interesting tasks are likely to come the way of Cdrs
Penn and De Voogd and it is trusted that they will enjoy
their periods in command.