April 13, 2024

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The first South African woman to sail a submarine dies - DW - 09/21/2023

The first South African woman to sail a submarine dies – DW – 09/21/2023

The South African National Defense Forces on Thursday announced the names of three divers who died in an accident off the coast of Cape Town on Wednesday.

Lieutenant Commander Gillian Elizabeth Hector was named among the three who died when the SAS ship Manthatisi was hit by a large wave while it was resupplying at sea.

Hector was celebrated in South AfricaAs the first female officer on the African continent to command a submarine.

A rescue operation was launched shortly after the wave hit, but despite the efforts of emergency services, three naval personnel died.Photograph: Nick Bothma/Reuters

A submarine hit by a large wave

According to the South African National Defense Force, the submarine – one of three German-built Type 209/1400 Heroine-class submarines in the South African Naval Fleet – was heading towards Cape Town and was conducting what it called a “vertical refit” operation involving a helicopter. .

A large wave hit the ship, knocking a number of crew members off the deck.

The refit operation was immediately canceled and rescue efforts began after the Navy personnel were swept out to sea.

“All seven members were recovered but unfortunately three were killed, including a senior official who is in critical condition,” the South African National Defense Forces said.

Find a female officer inside the ship

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said a female officer had to be extracted from inside the ship.

“Unfortunately, despite extensive CPR efforts, the officer was pronounced dead,” the NSRI said in a statement.

Local advocacy group Women for Change posted tributes to Hector and her crew on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, and offered its condolences to the families of the deceased.

Cape Town and other coastal areas have been hit by very rough waves over the past week, due to a phenomenon known as “spring tides”.

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In a separate incident on the same day, four South African soldiers were killed when a military truck being towed by another truck overturned after its tire exploded.

kb/jsi (AP and DW sources)