On Wednesday, September 20, three members of the South African Navy lost their lives, and one officer remains in critical condition after a high wave swept them and three others off the SAS Manthatisi submarine near the town of Kommetjie, close to Cape Town.
The South African Department of Defense reported that the accident happened during a supply transfer operation. An Air Force Lynx helicopter was moving supplies to the submarine when the wave struck. The seven crew members involved were rescued. However, three were later pronounced dead in the hospital, while the others received medical treatment.
The Department of Defense officially identified the deceased as Lieutenant Commander Gillian Elizabeth Hector, Master Warrant Officer William Masela Mathipa, and Warrant Officer Mmokwapa Lucas Mojela. They confirmed an official investigation into the accident’s circumstances is underway.
Minister of Defense and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, acting Secretary of Defense Thobekile Gamede, and other officials from the Department of Defense conveyed their sympathy to the families, friends, and colleagues of the submariners.
Cyril Xaba, the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defense and Military Veterans, acknowledged the incident. He praised the coordinated efforts of the South African Police Services, Emergency Medical Services, National Sea Rescue Institute, SA Navy, and Air Force during the rescue operation. The committee also expressed condolences and wished a quick recovery for the surviving Navy members.