The SAS Mendi (F148)is a corvette/frigate vessel of the four-strong "Valour-class" belonging to the South African Navy. Her sisters include the SAS Amatola (F145), SAS Isandlwana (F146) and the SAS Spioenkop (F147). The vessel saw her keel laid down on June 28th, 2002 and she was launched in October of 2003 to undertake the requisite sea trials. Upon successful completion of these trials, she was formally commissioned into service with the South African Navy on March 20th, 2007. The SAS Mendi is named after the SS Mendi, a passenger ship from 1905 commissioned as a troop ship during World War 1. She and 646 of her passengers and crew were lost after a collision with the SS Darro - the accident marking one of the largest losses of life in South African Navy history. The area of her sinking was marked during an August 23rd, 2004 ceremony with the new SAS Mendi present. The vessel makes it homeport out of Simon's Town (also "Simonstown") and is recognized by its "F148" pennant. She was constructed with German assistance at the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard (as part of the European South African Corvette Consortium) in Kiel, Germany prior to being handed over to South African naval forces in September of 2004. The SAS Mendi marks the last Valour-class corvette/frigate to be produced by the South African Navy.
NOTE: The South African Navy considers the SAS Mendi a corvette type vessel. However, its qualities and firepower are more akin to a frigate in other global inventories.
Design of the SS Mendi makes extensive use of large-area panels to do away with details and radar-attracting protrusions while promoting stealth through sloped surfaces and hidden deck fittings. The forecastle is a long-running, nearly featureless section of ship leading up to the primary superstructure containing the bridge and air/surface search radome installation. A deck gun is fitted forward of the superstructure for engagement of surface vessels at range or offshore bombardment as needed. The mast atop the superstructure is completely enclosed as opposed to an open lattice-type assembly. There is a noticeable gap dividing the forward and rear superstructures at amidships to offer space for a pair of Exocet surface-to-surface missile launchers - one fitted to port and other to starboard. The aft superstructure holds the ship's funnel used to exhaust the conventional nature of the diesel turbine engines while a pyramid-shaped mast towers above. A pair of watercraft are partially exposed along either side of the aft superstructure while an rotary-wing aircraft hangar is housed in the aft-most section of the rear superstructure. Aft of the hangar is the open-air flight deck for the launching and recovery of helicopters. A twin-barreled cannon emplacement defends the rear quarters of the ship. The hangar also doubles as a internal storage for when the Mendi is called to undertake humanitarian relief missions. A service crane is fitted to the starboard side of the vessel next to the hangar bay for unloading/loading supplies.
Military navy frigates have historically been generally well-armed and their armament array should reflect a mix of weaponry designed to counter the various possible threats (land-, sea- or air-based) to the allied fleet or the ship itself. As such, the Mendi is armed with a 76mm /67 Otobreda Compact deck gun at the forecastle, ahead of the bridge superstructure. Aft of the deck gun are 2 x 8 (16) Umkhonto vertical surface-to-air missile-launching cells. Defending the stern is a 35mm LIW (Denel) 35DPG dual-purpose twin-barreled cannon emplacement above the hangar door. A pair of 4-cell (2x4) Excocet MBDA MM 40 Block 2 surface-to-surface missile launchers divide the forward and aft superstructures. Two Super Barricade chaff decoy launchers protect the vessel from missile attack. A pair of 20mm Oerlikon Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) defend the superstructures from point attacks.
The air wing of the Mendi consists of one or two Westland SuperLynx 300 navalized helicopters. Her entire crew complement of officers, sailors, airmen and mechanics is 152 personnel. Electronics consist of a Thales MRR 3D air-surface search radar suite with 2 x Racal Bridgemaster E navigation system. Fire control is directed by 2 x Reutech RTS 6400 system. Sonar capability is made possible by the hull-mounted, active-search Thomson Marconi 4132 Kingklip series sonar array.
The Mendi is powered by 2 x diesel engines and 1 x gas turbine generating propulsion through 2 x shafts. There is also a single waterjet fitted. Top speed in ideal conditions is 30 knots with a range out to 8,000 nautical miles. Overall legnth is 397 feet with a beam of 53.5 feet and draught of 19.5 feet. The Mendi displaces at 3,700 tons.
To date, the SAS Mendi has undertaken various deployments including anti-piracy campaigns and general exercises. Its modern, forward-thinking design should make it a stable part of South African Navy operations for decades to come.
Ship Class [ Valour-class ] Ships-in-Class [ 4 ]Ship Names:SAS Amatola (F145); SAS Isandlwana (F146); SAS Spioenkop (F147); SAS Mendi (F148)
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
397 ft (121.01 m)
Width / Beam:
53.6 ft (16.34 m)
Height / Draught:
19.5 ft (5.94 m)
2 x Diesel engines developing 7,840 horsepower each with 1 x Gas turbine generating 26,820 horsepower to 2 x shafts; 1 x waterjet.
30 kts (35 mph)
7,995 nm (9,200 miles; 14,806 km)
1 x 76mm /62 Otobreda Compact deck gun (forecastle)
1 x 2 35mm LIW (Denel) 35DPG dual-purpose cannon (twin-barreled).
2 x 20mm Oerlikon Mk 1 Close-In Weapon System (CIWS).
2 x 4-cell (8) MBDA MM40 Exocet Block 2 surface-tosurface missile launchers (amidships)
2 x 8-cell (16) Umkhonto surface-to-air vertical missile launchers (forecastle).
Up to 2 x Westland SuperLynx 300 navy helicopters.
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