SA Navy Action Lined Up for Durban Port Festival
This June the South African Navy will bring four naval ships and highly trained forces to Durban’s shores as part of its World Hydrography Day celebrations. The spectacle runs alongside Transnet National Ports Authority’s Durban Port Festival from 18 to 19 June.
Observed officially on 21 June, World Hydrography Day is a global commemoration that celebrates the art and science of hydrography and its importance for all shipping and recreational use of waterways. Hydrography is the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans, seas, coastal areas, lakes and rivers, and predicts any future changes to them over time. The port city of Durban last played host to this South African Navy celebration in 2013 and this year’s activities will tie into a weekend of free portside fun lined up by South Africa’s port authority.
From Saturday, 18 to Sunday, 19 June port-goers can board and tour four real-life SA Navy ships stationed at the N Shed passenger terminal in the Port of Durban – the area of the port from which cruise ships usually depart.
SAS PROTEA, SAS DRAKENSBERG, SAS MAKHANDA and SAS ISAAC DYOBHA will hold pride of place from 9am until queues to visit the ships close at 4pm on both days. As seen at previous such events, long queues should be expected and the public is urged to get there early and enjoy the array of other waterside and landside activities taking place as part of the port festival.
The SA Navy will also have its diving display tank present on site for the public to interact with SA Navy divers.
In addition Transnet National Ports Authority has made available some of its tugboats to enable the public to get on board and enjoy free tug rides throughout the weekend of the Durban Port Festival.
Another guaranteed highlight will be the free SA Navy Band gala performance at the City Hall on the evening of Friday, 17 June, featuring the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir and the Umlazi High School Choir. Doors open at 18h00 and the concert starts at 19h00. The concert is free but bookings must be made by phoning 031-460 6376.
On Saturday, 18 June spectators will get to witness a Right of Entry parade marching off from the City Hall around 10h45, featuring a 96 person Guard of Honour accompanied by the SA Navy Band. Attendance is also free.
Spokesperson for the SA Navy, Cdr P.G. van den Berg, said that the SA Navy is very exciting to bring the World Hydrography Day celebrations back to Durban.
“Although the SA Navy is a small Navy in world terms, we are proud of the fact that we are a very professional and competent Navy. Very few people know that Hydrography plays such an important part in maritime trade. If ships cannot safely navigate the waterways of the world, it means that trade becomes dangerous and expensive,” he said.
Cdr P.G. van den Berg added: “The SA Navy is helping all South African consumers by keeping the shipping insurance costs of imports and exports down to a minimum. The SA Navy is also in process of upgrading the existing Naval Station in Durban back to a fully operational Naval Base. This means that the footprint of the SA Navy in Durban will continue to grow.”
Other portside edu-tainment lined up as part of the Durban Port Festival includes a careers exhibition focusing on maritime vocations, while at Wilsons Wharf throughout the Durban Port Festival weekend port-goers can enjoy a special kids’ zone, live entertainment and a mini market.
TNPA’s Durban Port Manager, Moshe Motlohi, said the idea behind the Durban Port Festival is to bring communities closer to the ports.
“Port access has been restricted since the advent of the global ISPS code of safety and security for ports a few years ago, and as a result communities have become disconnected from the ports. While we do need to adhere to these requirements, we are also aware of the need to develop and nurture relationships with our communities and ensure that they are exposed to the work we do and the opportunities that exist for them through the ports,” he said.
Entry to the Durban Port Festival and the SA Navy’s World Hydrography Day activities will be FREE and suitable for the whole family.