New Navy Chief Samuel Hlongwane with previous Navy chief Johannes Mudimu
01 April 2014 by Dean Wingrin - defenceWeb
The South African Navy (SAN) has a new Chief. In a day full of traditional pomp and ceremony, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu handed over command to Rear Admiral Mosuwa Samuel Hlongwane on Monday March 31.
Hlongwane will be promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral with effect from April 1.
Mudimu was appointed as Chief of the SAN on March 1, 2005, a post he has held for the past nine years. During this time he played a major role putting the South African Navy in the forefront of several international treaties and programmes. He was instrumental in establishing the Sea Power for Africa initiative and is the outgoing chairman of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). Furthermore he was a driving force in the SADC Maritime Strategy as well as the tripartite alliance between Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa to curb piracy in the Indian Ocean.
The arrival and integration of all three Type 209 submarines ordered under the 1999 Strategic Defence Package (SDP) occurred under his watch, with other highlights including the 2008 Presidential Fleet Review, the deployment of vessels during the 2010 Soccer World Cup and the anti-piracy patrols currently underway in the Mozambique Channel under Operation Copper. Many other new capabilities and training aids were also introduced into the SAN.
Following a 15 round gun salute and flypast from an Air Force Super Lynx maritime helicopter, the Change of Command Parade was held under sunny skies before invited guests, including Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Minister of Defence and Military Veterans), General Solly Shoke (Chief of the SANDF), the heads of the other services and the Navy Chiefs of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
On completion of the parade and in accordance with naval tradition, the outgoing Chief of the SAN was pulled from the parade ground on a gun carriage by senior members of staff. The Gun Carriage was pulled to Admiralty House through the main road of Simon’s Town, followed by the Navy Band.
Earlier that morning, Mudimu participated in a sail past of Navy ships in harbour, with the ships' company saluting him for the last time as Chief of the South African Navy.
Speaking to defenceWeb after the parade, Mudimu noted that he had remained as Chief of the SAN longer than international convention. “I think the time has come, I am a believer that change is good,” he said.
Reflecting on the past few years, Mudimu noted that he was of the view that the Navy had done well and were sensitive to all the requirements of the people and that the Navy now reflects the demographics of the country.
“I’m happy with the balance that our Navy has today across the board in terms of the white officers at various levels,” he said. However, he was still battling in attracting more Indians into the lower levels of the Navy.
Mudimu is comfortable that he is leaving the Navy in capable hands. Looking to the future, he says that the issue of sea blindness in Africa is still a factor.
Hlongwane had worked with Mudimu on these challenges and the new Chief of the SAN will be taking the process forward.
“I think V Adm Hlongwane will continue with this theme. African countries, they need a lot of support. They are entirely dependent on the Navy in terms of ensuring that their maritime zones are patrolled and patrolled effectively. So we have achieved a lot in that regard. So I wish they would continue in that.”
Another challenge facing African navies is to increase their capabilities, particularly when exercising with large foreign navies. Mudimu wants to see African navies putting their own ships and submarines to sea, not just embedding crewmembers on the foreign vessels.
“We must have our own assets and in so doing, we’ll ensure the stability and safety of the African continent being in our hands on not in the hands of the other person,” he explained.
Vice Admiral Hlongwane is a man of few words. He did, however, tell defenceWeb that the outgoing Chief “had already laid the grease” and that he will pick up where Mudimu had left and go forward.
He is aware of the enormous responsibilities that come with the new appointment as the Chief of the South African Navy. Although there were many challenges for him and his team, so there were opportunities.
He remarked on the ever increasing dependency on the South African Navy capabilities in support of the SANDF and national interest considerations. “This, he said, “means that we will have to enhance and strengthen our capabilities.”
Hlongwane joined the African National Congress (ANC) and its Military wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) in 1982, working as an underground operative, and left South Africa in September 1984. He completed basic military training in Angola, where he was initially deployed.
He was selected to attend the Naval Course in Azerbaijan (Baku) at the Caspian Naval Red Banner College in August 1986. In November 1991, he successfully completed the Naval Ship Command Course in Navigation.
Having participated in the Joint Military Co-ordinating Committee (JMCC) as a member of the Navy work group in 1993/1994, he integrated into the SANDF and attended the Bridging and orientation courses at South African Naval College and Maritime Warfare School (Combat Orientation Course).
After a number if postings within the SAN, he was appointed as the South African Defence Attache to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo from 1 March 2005 until 30 March 2008.
On 1 April 2008 he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral (JG) and appointed Chief of Fleet Staff.
Cabinet has approved Mudimu’s appointment as Chairperson of Armscor, with the final paperwork to be signed soon.