THE NAVY SWORD OF PEACE
From: ‘The South African Navy – 25 Years of Democracy’ by Commander Leon Steyn (SA Naval Museum)
The Navy Sword of Peace was presented to the South African Navy by the Wilkinson Sword Company in 1976. First awarded in 1977; the sword is awarded to the naval unit (ship or shore) which provided the most meritorious aid in the humanitarian field, typically disaster relief or search and rescue operations. The Navy Sword of Peace is not necessarily awarded each year, but only in cases that truly merit the award in recognition to the unit’s achievement.
1977 – SAS FLAMINGO
The first award of the Sword of Peace was made to the Air Sea Rescue unit SAS Flamingo based at Langebaan, in recognition of the services performed by the unit and for numerous rescue operations between 1969 and 1977. This included the rescue of survivors from the stern trawler TracyJon which had capsized 150 miles off Saldanha on 14 November 1969, together with the daring rescue operation to reach ten critically injured men on the tanker Georgios V a few hundred miles west of Walvis Bay on 25 August 1970.
1978 – SAS PROTEA
On 25 May 1978, the SA Navy hydrographic survey vessel, the SAS Protea under command of Capt C.J.H. Wagenfeld rescued twenty-six crew members from the Japanese crab fishing boat, the Kaiyo Maru No 1, which foundered off the Skeleton Coast of Namibia. Shortly thereafter, Protea was involved in another mercy mission to evacuate a heart attack victim from the tanker Texaco Sweden off the Namibian coast.
1979 – SAS SIMONSBERG (DIVING SCHOOL)
In 1979 the Awarded in recognition of services of the highest order and utmost devotion to duty in connection with humanitarian assistance provided during 1979. Divers assisted with the search for bodies after a ferry-boat overturned in the Zambezi River, despite the presence of crocodiles. During the course of the year divers of SAS Simonsberg also disposed of explosives no fewer than 12 times amidst operational conditions.
1980 – STRIKE CRAFT FLOTILLA
Awarded for services rendered over a period of two years (1979 and 1980). This included the search for the crew of an Air Force Buccaneer aircraft that went down over the sea on 3 Aug 1978 off Scottburgh. The strike craft SAS Frederic Creswell was involved in the search for the missing crew.
Late in 1979 the strike craft SAS Jan Smuts rendered assistance to the damaged yacht Golden Lion and towed it back to safety. In April 1980 the strike craft SAS Oswald Pirow (Cdr A.G. Soderlund) was sent out in worsening weather conditions to provide assistance to the yacht Kaleo. During the rescue the task was made more difficult by gale force winds and 15 metre high waves.
1981 – SAS SIMONSBERG (DIVING SCHOOL)
SAS Simonsberg earned its second Navy Sword of Peace. During January 1981 nine members of the SAN Diving School assisted in the mopping-up operations in Laingsburg after the tragic flood disaster that befell the small Karoo town. The divers worked mainly in the muddy waters of the Floriskraal Dam where they recovered sixteen bodies, mostly in an advanced state of decomposition, which the divers had to handle without gasmasks or gloves.
1983 – NAVAL COMMAND NATAL
Awarded to Naval Command Natal and its subsidiary units Naval Base Durban, 121 Harbour Protection Unit Durban, 122 Harbour Protection Unit Richards Bay, SAS Inkonkoni, SAS Magaliesberg and SAS Rand for its purposeful involvement, to promote the image of the SA Navy in a positive way in the Natal region and for its devotion to duty and service delivery of the highest order.
1984 – SAS PROTEA
SAS Protea under command of Cdr W.S. Rushby was dispatched from Simon’s Town on 9 July 1984 to pick up the critically ill South African research team leader Mr Graham Clarke on Marion Island. After reaching the island in very bad weather, it was only after the third attempt that the unconscious Mr Clarke could be brought to the ship by helicopter. Eight days later, on 17 July, SAS Protea entered Simon’s Town again from where Mr Clarke was taken to hospital.
1985 – NAVAL COMMAND NATAL
Awarded to Naval Command Natal and its subsidiary units Naval Base Durban, 121 Harbour Protection Unit Durban, 122 Harbour Protection Unit Richards Bay, SAS Inkonkoni, SAS Magaliesberg and SAS Rand for its purposeful involvement, to promote the image of the SA Navy in a positive way in the Natal region and for its devotion to duty and service delivery of the highest order, with particular reference to the flood relief operations in Natal during 1984 (Cyclone Demoina).
1986 – SAS JALSENA
Awarded to SAS Jalsena for its purposeful involvement, to promote the image of the SA Navy in a positive way in the Natal region and for its devotion to duty and service delivery of the highest order.
1987 – NAVAL BASE DURBAN
Awarded to Naval Base Durban for its purposeful involvement, to promote the image of the SA Navy in a positive way in the Natal region and for its devotion to duty and service delivery of the highest order, with particular reference to the flood relief operations in Natal during 1987.
1991 – SAS DRAKENSBERG
SAS Drakensberg was awarded Navy Sword of Peace for humanitarian relief work. Emergency supplies of more than 750 tons of food, medicine, clothes, vehicles and building material were shipped on behalf of ISCRA to the countries of Bangladesh, Turkey, Sudan and Mozambique.
SAS Drakensberg more than earned the reward that year. Earlier in June 1991 the ship was dispatched to Marion Island to uplift a sick crewmember from the meteorological Station on the island and to land his replacement. The mission was successfully completed amidst atrocious sea and weather conditions.
1992 – SAS TAFELBERG
From 16 September to 23 October 1992, the SAS Tafelberg undertook an emergency relief mission to Mombasa in Kenia to ship 670 tons of food and supplies for distribution to Somalian refugees in the north of Kenia.
1993 – SAS KOBIE COETSEE
In February 1993, the strike craft SAS Kobie Coetsee made a daring passage to Gough Island to fetch an ill member of the weather team. This mercy dash brought the SAS Kobie Coetsee to a more southern latitude than any strike craft previously.
1994 – SAS OSWALD PIROW
During July 1994 the strike craft SAS Oswald Pirow was dispatched to assist the yacht Mabili. The stricken yacht was taken on tow to Richards Bay in spite of appalling sea conditions. The SAS Oswald Pirow again came to the aid of another yacht, Tara during August 1994.
1996 – OPERATIONAL DIVING TEAM (SAS SIMONSBERG & NAVAL BASE DURBAN DIVERS)
Awarded to the Operational Diving team of SAS Simonsberg and Naval Base Durban divers for its purposeful involvement, to promote the image of the SA Navy in a positive way and for its devotion to duty and service delivery of the highest order, with particular reference to the humanitarian service rendered following the ferry disaster in Tanzania.
1997 – SAS RENÉ SETHREN
In October 1996 the strike craft SAS Oswald Pirow (renamed SAS René Sethren in 1997) came to the rescue of the single hander Roger Anderson on his stricken yacht Wiftsta Office. Shortly thereafter the strike craft again came to the aid of an injured sailor on board the Argentine fishing trawler Mar del Pesca.
2000 – NAVAL BASE SIMON’S TOWN
Awarded to Naval Base Simon’s Town for its purposeful involvement, to promote the image of the SA Navy in a positive way in the Western Cape region and for its devotion to duty and service delivery of the highest order, with particular reference to the devastating Simon’s Town bush fires of 2000. Apart from the Sword of Peace award to the unit, several individual bravery awards were also made.
2001 – SAS SIMONSBERG (DIVING CENTRE)
Awarded to SAS Simonsberg for its purposeful involvement, to promote the image of the SA Navy in a positive way in the Western Cape region and for its devotion to duty and service delivery of the highest order, with particular reference to Operation MICRO, the Mozambique flood disaster relief operation.
2003 – SAS OUTENIQUA
SAS Outeniqua’s last sojourn south was to Gough Island on 27 February 2003 to transport an emergency technical team to repair a defective generator on the island. Under the command of Captain Charl Coetzee, Operation COLD CUT was successful completed and Outeniqua was safely alongside again on 11 March 2003.
2005 – SAS PROTEA
In June 2005 while conducting routine survey work off the east coast, the SAS Protea was called out to assist the freighter Kiperousa which ran aground off north east of Port Alfred. The crew was saved in the rescue operation.
2006 – SAS DRAKENSBERG
While escorting the new submarine S101 (later named SAS ‘Manthatisi) on her delivery voyage from Kiel Germany to Simon’s Town, the SAS Drakensberg (Capt Colin Sharwood) was rerouted at Rota, Spain and ordered to sail to Antwerpen, Belgium. There a 210 ton rotor was loaded, destined for the Koeberg nuclear power station. The arrival of the rotor in Cape Town on 5 April 2006, enabled urgent repairs to be made, restoring the capacity of the power station to provide electricity to the Cape region.
2007 – SAS ISAAC DYOBA
On 28 March 2007 the strike craft SAS Isaac Dyoba was called out to assist the fishing vessel Alma Lucie. In November 2007 the SAS Isaac Dyoba again came to the rescue of a capsized yacht, the New York Clipper off Durban and saved the crew.
2011 – SAS ISANDLWANA
The frigate SAS Isandlwana (Capt Mike Boucher) was called on to assist the crew of the Taiwanese fishing trawler Lai Ching that sunk near the island of Tristan da Cunha. Isandlwana departed Simon’s Town on 3 May 2011 and medical supplies were transported by means of the frigate’s Lynx helicopter after which eleven survivors were rescued. SAS Isandlwana was back in Simon’s Town on 11 May 2011.
The Navy Sword of Peace has been awarded to the Hydrographic Survey Vessel SAS Protea, on no less than three occasions; in 1978, 1984 and 2005.