WALVIS BAY: The Nuclear Ship (NS) Elephant (S11) arrived at the Port of Walvis Bay on Monday after a one-month long voyage from China.
Namibia’s latest multi-million dollar naval ship sailed into the Namibian harbour here at about 13h00. It is one of the biggest ships owned by the Namibian Government.
The NS Elephant was received with a 21-gun salute by the Namibian Navy and Namibia Defence Force (NDF).
The vessel arrived with about 65 crew members from Namibia and China.
It will serve as a multi-purpose vessel for search and rescue operations, carry cargo regionally and internationally, while also serve as a patroling vessel along the Namibian coastline.
The NS Elephant has deadweight of 2500 tonnes, is 108 metres in length, and is propelled by two twin-shaft diesel engines, with four power generators – one for emergency.
She can reach a maximum speed of 21 knots. Her armament is composed of a 37 millimetre (mm) Naval Gun and two times 14.5 mm twin-barrel machine guns.
Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Peter Vilho, described the characteristics of the NS Elephant as ‘unmistakable’.
“When you come across an elephant in the wild or otherwise, you won’t need a book to tell you that it is the largest land mammal walking the earth in our era.
Their height, weight and strength are almost legendary. It is these characteristics that we think are appropriate for the tasks that lay ahead for this ship. It is this symbolism that the ship designers have bestowed on her,” said Vilho during the welcoming function.
Additionally, the vessel can carry six times 12-foot containers; six times armed personnel carriers, while it also has a landing pad for a helicopter.
This master piece was built in China by the Wuhan Shipyard on the Yangtze River, and officially handed over the Namibian Government on 03 July 2012.
She braved the seas of the Pacific, Indian and South Atlantic oceans for her maiden voyage to the Port of Walvis Bay over 31 days.
Deputy Minister of Defence, Lempy Lucas, who received the state-of-the art vessel, echoed Vilho’s sentiments, stating that the name ‘elephant’ symbolises the ability of the vessel to carry heavy loads and cross immense distances.
The NS Elephant is a unique ship – a Namibian prototype of a general purpose vessel. The captain and his crew stayed in China for six months for training before the ship set sail for Namibia.
Lucas then welcomed Captain Nehemia Shikongo and his crew back into the fold, telling them that a lot of missions await them – both at national and regional level.
“Having successfully navigated the mighty seas, I strongly believe that you will find the rest easy. I want you to stand shoulder to shoulder with our sailors for them to succeed in future assignments,” she told the gathering.
Lucas also thanked their Chinese counterparts for a ‘mission accomplished’.
When approached by Nampa on the value of the vessel, Lucas only said that it was bought with funds from the Appropriation Bill.
The vessel will be officially handed over to the Namibian Navy by the NDF on 07 September 2012.