To succeed its aged line of French-made Cold War-era Daphne-class attack submarines, the South African Navy procured a batch of three German Type 209 submarines (the class detailed elsewhere on this site). Known locally as the Herione-class, this group is led by SAS Manthatisi (S101) and she is joined by sister boats SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102) and SAS Queen Modjadji I (S103). The vessels were commissioned in on April 1st, 2006, March 14th, 2007 and May 2008, respectively, and all are in active service as of this writing (2016). Construction of the first boat was handled by the German firm of Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (Kiel) while the remaining two were completed by Thyssen Nordseewerke (Emden).
SAS Charlotte Maxeke was delivered to Simon's Town on April 27th, 2007. She displaces 1,455 tons when submerged and features a running length of 203 feet, a beam of 25 feet and a draught of 19 feet. Her propulsion system is made up of diesel-electric arrangement developing 6,100 horsepower to 1 x shaft. Electric generators are used for submerged travel. She ranges out to 13,000 miles and can speed up to 10 knots surfaced and 21.5 knots submerged. her crew complement numbers thirty.
Onboard systems include an STN Atlas CSU-90 suite, hull and side-mounted sonar arrays, an optronic mast, service-search I-band radar and a Saab S/UME-100 series tactical electronic countermeasures suite. Grintek Avitronics supplies the intercept / Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) fit.
As an attack submarine, SAS Charlotte Maxeke is appropriately outfitted with 8 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes and she carries 14 x AEG SUT 264 series torpedoes. The tubes also support the UGM-84 "Harpoon" Anti-Ship Missile (ASM).
Since commissioning, SAS Charlotte Maxeke has partaken in standard patrols, training and combine exercises involving forces from Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The three vessels of the class make up the entire South African underwater fighting force but mark a major improvement over the outgoing Daphne-class as they feature better seakeeping and underwater capabilities.