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Western Cape
Apr 26 2012 11:32AM
 
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Nadine Ford-Kritzinger

Another pertinent page will be added to the history of the People's Navy today when Commander Thamasanqu "Handsome" Matsane becomes the first black leader of a submarine.

He will take over command of the Type 209 diesel-electronic submarine SAS Queen Modjadji 1 from Commander Neville Howell during a quayside ceremony at Simon's Town naval base, SA Navy fleet headquarters.

Howell's final command voyage was during this month's Exercise Good Hope V with the German Navy.

His leadership enabled the "underwater force multiplier" to evade all attempts at detection and capture.

This included the first time a South African submarine had come up against a dipping radar array as fitted to Lynx maritime helicopters.

The new man at the helm of S103 joined the maritime arm of the SA National Defence Force 14 years ago. In 1998 he successfully completed military training for Officers and subsequently received his Bachelor of Military Science degree at the Saldanha Academy.

Matsane's first underwater venture was aboard SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102) where he served as operations officer after qualifying as a submariner.

His tour of duty as executive officer of Charlotte came to an end at midnight.

While he is now one of the men entrusted with the Navy's underwater assets, Matsane rates among his naval career highlights the 2003 Cape to Rio yacht race and the four months spent aboard the Chilean square rigger BE Esmeralda sailing around the world.

Matsane is on record as saying: "I am not good at languages but give me any amount of numbers to solve and I will always have a solution."

Not surprisingly, he was the best student in his mathematics class at the Academy.

Although he was mentored by skipper John Martin, Commander Matsane speaks proudly of his grandmother as his chief inspiration.

nadinef@thenewage.co.za

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