The secret South African project team : building strike craft in Israel, 1975-79

Potgieter, Thean (2004)

CITATION: Potgieter, T. 2004. The secret South African project team : building strike craft in Israel, 975-79. Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, 32(1):119-145, doi:10.5787/32-2-132.

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Though the history of the South African Navy (SAN) only dates back to 1922, for most of its history it depended on Britain for warships. The British Royal Navy on the other hand had an unbroken involvement with maritime defence along the South African Coast and the protection of the Cape Sea Route from 1806 to 1975 (when the Simon’s Town Agreement was cancelled). However, political tension between South Africa’s apartheid government and Britain caused a break in this relationship, forcing the SAN to acquire warships from alternative sources. A number of South African efforts to acquire corvettes failed during the 1970s, leaving the strike craft project as the only major warship project of the SAN to succeed for close to three decades. This project had an overseas as well as a local building phase. As part of the overseas phase, a project team was dispatched to Israel in 1975 to oversee the building and commissioning into the SAN, of three strike craft. The project team consisted of the Armaments Board (AB, Armscor after 1977) team as well as the SAN project team. While the AB/Armscor had to oversee the building process, the SAN team had to prepare to take the vessels into service.

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