Navy uses ex German minesweeper for target practice
Nov 12, 2007
The South African Navy recently conducted a weapons testing exercise in front of the media during which live missiles were fired on a derelict vessel, sinking it south of Cape Point.
The vessel in the firing line was the former German minesweeper KONSTANZ, which had been acquired with a number of sister vessels as replacements and spares for the Navy’s City Class minesweepers.
The weapons firing exercise took place as part of an annual military exercise code-named Exercise Red Lion, during which two frigates, SAS SPIOENKOP and SAS MENDI each fired one Exocet MM.40 block 1 missile at the target, destroying the wooden ship completely and afterwards leaving only debris floating on the water. The bulk of the vessel sank in deep water where it will become an artificial reef and breeding ground for fish.
Prior to the sinking all pollutants had been removed from the vessel along with all useable parts.
The navy said in a statement afterwards that it was necessary to test weapon systems from time to time and to evaluate capabilities. Prior to the exercise permission had been sought and granted in accordance with requirements of the Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), which had issued a permit to go ahead.
Also involved in the exercise were several other ships, including SAS DRAKENSBERG which towed the target to the firing area, and the strike craft SAS ISAAC DYOBHA which conducted range safety clearance with the assistance of an Oryx helicopter from 22 Squadron, Ysterplaat Air Force Base.
Exercise RED LION is continuing and will conclude on 27 November 2007.
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