Media Statement on the SAS Drakensberg Vessel in the West Coast of Africa.

The South African Government confirms that the SA Navy support vessel, the SAS DRAKENSBERG, was planned to participate as a communication and guard vessel for the 2011 Cape to Rio Yacht race during the period January-February. The vessel would in particular conduct practical sea training for numerous young officers and ratings in the South African Navy that require practical sea training in order to obtain their various sea going qualifications.

The SAS DRAKENSBERG was diverted from participating in the Cape to Rio Yacht Race to embark on a mission to the Gulf of Guinea. The ship is also still conducting practical sea training for young officers and ratings in the South African Navy. This training exercise is exclusively South African and not a joint operation as may have been reported in some media.

The South African Government confirms that it instructed the SANDF to pre-position the SA Navy support vessel, the SAS DRAKENSBERG, in the Gulf of Guinea for possible assistance to SA diplomats, designated personnel and other South African citizens in Ivory Coast.

The SAS DRAKENSBERG is presently off the coast of Ghana for the purpose of replenishing rations and exchange of the training crews. The vessel had been in international waters since it left the RSA and only entered the waters of Ghana to replenish with the full knowledge of Ghanaian authorities. She will proceed back into international waters once this is completed. To date the SAS Drakensburg has not at any stage entered the Ivorian territorial waters.

His Excellency, President Zuma has since communicated the above with the President of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan, who is also the Chair of ECOWAS.

The SAS DRAKENSBERG, is a non combatant support vessel with a non-aggressive posture.

Ends

For further information please contact Mr. Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Pretoria

16 February 2011


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