The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will display its power on 21 February 2023, in Richards Bay marking the day over 106 years ago when the British troop ship SS Mendi sank after a collision in fog with the large Royal Mail Steam Packet Company cargo ship Darro on 21 February 1917.
The collision happened off the Isle of Wight during the First World War with the loss of 646 lives; most of them South Africans from the South African Native Corps who were to serve in France. Tragically, the Master of the Darro never stopped to help or rescue survivors from the SS Mendi.
This disastrous event was recorded as one of the 20th century’s worst maritime disasters in UK waters.
It is expected that all the arms of the SANDF will be present, as Richards Bay offers airport and maritime facilities near each other.
See gallery below…..
The navy is expected to be present with ships, strike craft, landing craft and possibly even a submarine in attendance for the exercise.
Helicopters like the South African designed Oryx, the locally manufactured Rooivalk attack helicopter, the Augusta A109 and the Bk117 from the South African Air Force should help entertain the large expected crowds. The Navy will display the Super Lynx ship borne helicopter. It remains to be seen whether the SAAF SAAB Gripen will make a public appearance in Richards Bay, but the SAAF BAE Hawks should make up at least one jet aircraft aerial display.
Organisers say it is also possible that a C130 and a C47 Dakota could grace the skies over the Natal northern coast dropping parachutes and supplies
Troops and armed vehicles from the South African Army will be parading during the event.
Static displays will be available, show casing the SANDF in all its glory, with the latest arsenals available.
Military parades of personal, armoured vehicles, mock battles at sea, landing craft, helicopters and aircraft will be performing in front of The Chief Commander, his staff and the public, where the final act will be the placing of a memorial wreath in remembrance of the SS Mendi.
This will be a military aficionado’s dream day, so get your cameras ready and make your way to Richards Bay on 21 February.