Near-miss probe begins

Remember the Three German Warships Off Struisbaai? The Three German Warships that weren’t really doing anything very sinister? That was, until they tried to blow up a fishing boat with 10 people on board later that evening.

These things happen.

Captain Jaco Theunissen, spokesman for the SA Navy’s joint operations division, said on Saturday: “The South African National Defence Force acknowledges that the unfortunate incident that was reported on in the Cape Times on Friday, March 27 did take place.”

The navy has said warnings about naval exercises are sent out as navigation warnings on radio and to all fishing clubs and harbours. Day has said he got no warning.

To be fair to the Three German Warships, it’s actually unclear whether it was one of them or their SA Navy counterparts which fired the shots.

Fishing boat skipper, Anthony Day (perhaps understandably), isn’t happy though:

“…no one from the navy has contacted me. It is very disturbing that you can nearly take someone’s life away and you don’t even contact them.
I understand they don’t want legal implications, but if I shot at someone in the street, I would be locked up, and here nothing happens.”

Fair point, but if you fired a dual-purpose 62-caliber, 76-millimeter gun manufactured by OTO Melara at someone in the street, there would be other questions to be asked as well, like “Where on earth did you get that massive gun from?” and “Wasn’t there a house at the end of this road – you know – where that heap of smouldering rubble is now?”

And then, yes, you’d be locked up.

Seriously though, this was an unbelievably careless incident, which could have had huge implications and led to loss of life, and thus it needs proper, thorough investigation by someone senior in the naval hierarchy. I guess that means they’ll be bringing in the big guns.


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