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Pretoria - Submarines and frigates the SA Navy acquired in the 1999 arms deal are needed and have been used, Rear Admiral Philip Schoultz told the Seriti Commission on Monday.
“I believe that we have adequately utilised these assets. Every commitment that this country has made, we have met,” he told the commission sitting in Pretoria.
“It is safe to say that the submarines have been reliable and 1/8have 3/8 served us well.... As far as the frigates are concerned..., in the normal course of operating there have been certain defects, but... we continue to discharge them.”
Schoultz said frigates were built with “redundancy” and that there were always risks at sea, but the SA Navy was satisfied that the security requirements had been met.
He said it was the duty of the SA Navy to defend and protect, and it was often more important to deter and prevent conflict.
The mere presence of military capability provided a deterrent.
“The military is about providing safety for us all at our borders. It is about us assisting government in its effort to bring peace to this continent of ours,” he said.
Schoultz took the commission through various reported “defects” in SA Navy equipment.
He said the battery life of a submarine was between seven and eight years.
There had been an issue with the batteries because of a build-up of gas.
“A repair solution was investigated and was brought about on the submarine batteries, and it was also brought to the attention of the manufacturer,” he said.
“The Navy has sourced its replacement battery, so whether there was a defect identified or not, we are at the eight-year period and we would be replacing batteries.”
The frigates were doing good work and would continue doing so as long as they were in use.
“There have been defects both on the submarines and the ships,” he said.
“Our experience is that the submarines have been more reliable than the frigates.”
Cancelling the contracts had immense complications, he said.
Earlier, the commission heard that the SA Navy and its frigates had played a vital role in security during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, with ships deployed in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth for the duration of the World Cup.
The navy was involved in events leading up to the World Cup as early as 2008.
The commission heard of various exercises conducted in Africa, including Namibia and Mozambique.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.