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Sat Nov 22 16:19:05 SAST 2014

Modjadji submarine crew required counselling after seabed strike

Sapa | 07 November, 2012 17:26
Commander Handsome Thamsanqa Matsane stands in the conning tower of the SAS Queen Modjadji as he becomes the first black naval commander of a South African submarine. File photo.
Image by: DEAN WINGRIN

The crew of the submarine SAS Modjadji required trauma counselling after the vessel struck the seabed off the Eastern Cape coast earlier this year.

This was revealed by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Responding to a question, she said a board of inquiry, convened by the SA Navy after the accident on July 18, had made various proposals.

These included recommendations on submarine standard operating procedures, current training "curricula", and "possible engineering changes that may have to be implemented on board the three SA Navy submarines".

She said the SAS Modjadji "did make contact with the sea bottom, mud and sand, on July 18 [this year], during a routine diving safety drill and hydraulic oil pressure failure exercise".

A technical investigation determined that the SAS Queen Modjadji had "suffered an indentation, that is approximately 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres, to the outer protective plating" near the bow, over its number five ballast tank.

There was no damage to the pressure hull or any of the equipment aboard the submarine. The cost of repairing the submarine was R500,000.

No crew member was injured.

"All crew members were psychologically evaluated after the incident as part of the normal procedure."

Mapisa-Nqakula later told MPs: "All of them, because of the trauma they went through, were then subjected to trauma counselling."

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