Durban — The Russian Navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov docked in Durban Harbour last Friday, en route to Richards Bay, in what the SANDF has described as a “courtesy visit”.
The warship’s visit formed part of Exercise Mosi II, involving South Africa, China and Russia, which started on February 12 and will end on Saturday. It also formed part of Armed Forces Day, which takes place today (Tuesday).
Armed Forces Day commemorates the sinking of the SS Mendi, a British passenger steamship, which sank in the English Channel after a collision on February 21, 1917. The World War I tragedy cost the lives of 616 black South African soldiers, who were en route to France.
As Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, President Cyril Ramaphosa will officiate at the proceedings, which are being held in Richards Bay.
According to a joint statement by the Presidency and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, Armed Forces Day also seeks to expand public understanding of the role of the SANDF in the life of the nation, and to demonstrate – through live simulations of military action – the capabilities of the army, navy, air force and SA Medical Health Service.
Ramaphosa will open the event with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Empangeni World War II Monument.
He will then proceed to the military parade, where he will take a salute from the SANDF and deliver an address to the forces and the public.
The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) released a statement confirming the expected docking of the Russian naval vessel and sea tanker at the ports of Cape Town, Durban and Richards Bay between February 12 and 25.
It said that in accordance with standard shipping procedures, the TNPA received a 72-hour notification of the docking of the Admiral Gorshkov and a Russian-flagged tanker, Kama.
The notification of arrival was issued to the TNPA with a copy of a diplomatic clearance approved by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. It was planned that both vessels would call at three South African ports as part of the Mosi II, the joint China-Russia-South Africa 2023 naval exercise.
According to TNPA acting chief harbour master Captain Naresh Sewnath, the notice allowed the TNPA and other shipping authorities to process the berthing request and the necessary clearances.
“The TNPA grants port entry to international vessels that have received the necessary authorisation from relevant government departments and entities,” said Captain Sewnath.
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