V-Adm Monde Lobese says the Navy intends ‘divorcing’ Armscor due to unhappiness over the state of the navy’s Simon’s Town dockyard.

At a medal ceremony in Simon’s Town in late February Lobese delivered a stinging rebuke of Armscor’s dockyard performance, and said he had already initiated discussions with the Defence Ministry aimed at severing Navy ties with government’s struggling arms procurement agency. Such a move was necessary to heal a Navy that was currently “in intensive care – because we are not sending our ships to sea”, said Lobese, who singled out budget cuts as partly the reason for below-par deployment. “Another factor that is severely limiting our ability to get our ships to sea, is the non-performance of the ARMSCOR Dockyard,” Lobese said. “As the Chief of the Navy, I have reached the end of my patience with their inability to repair the SA Navy ships. I have engaged the CEO of Armscor on numerous opportunities in order to resolve this situation. I am waiting for the senior management of the SANDF and the Minister to guide me in establishing the way forward, but I firmly believe the current way in which the ARMSCOR Dockyard functions cannot continue.”

Lobese went on to say that he now wants a ‘divorce’ from his forced marriage to Armscor, an unhappy union he said was in stark contrast with his marriage to his wife: “I met my wife 30 years ago, and I am celebrating 25 years of loving marriage with her this year. During this time our marriage has produced so many things, including three beautiful children, and a loving home. When I compare the 19 year long marriage between the Dockyard and the Navy, there is nothing that I can say has been produced. I believe it is high time that the SA Navy formally announces divorce proceedings with the Dockyard. Now that I am Chief of the Navy, I am no longer willing to be held prisoner or be undermined by Armscor Dockyard,” Lobese said.

It is unclear what such a ‘divorce’ would mean for Armscor’s commercial projects at the dockyard, which some believe may provide a tonic for the local boatbuilding and ship repair sector in the form of additional facilities such as the dry-dock.

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