One of the casualties in a recent submarine operation in Cape Town was Lieutenant Gillian Malouw, who made history as the first woman to navigate a submarine on the African continent.
The incident, which occurred on Wednesday in Kommetjie, resulted in the loss of three Navy crew members. The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has initiated an inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding this event.
The SANDF has reported that the incident transpired due to high waves that swept seven crew members out to sea during a vertical transfer operation.
As per IOL, the SA Navy submarine SAS Manthatisi was en route to Cape Town, conducting a vertical transfer using the SA Air Force Maritime Lynx helicopter. The planned VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment) evolution was abruptly terminated, and immediate efforts were launched to recover the crew members.
A surface swimmer was dispatched from the helicopter to assist in the rescue operation.
The SANDF reported that the rescue operation faced significant challenges due to the rough sea conditions prevailing at the time.
In response to the crisis, a distress call was made to Cape Town Radio, prompting a rapid deployment by a team from the National Sea Rescue Institute’s Kommetjie station.
Despite their efforts, three crew members could not be saved. A senior officer remains in critical condition, and the remaining members, including the surface swimmer, are currently hospitalised.
Lieutenant Gillian Malouw was stationed at the Simon’s Town naval base and shared her lifelong passion for the maritime industry in an interview with Cape Talk.
Her journey into the Navy began in Grade 7, when she was first exposed to it, eventually leading her to become a sea cadet and join the Navy after completing her schooling. In her interview, she expressed her aspirations to achieve significant milestones in her naval career.
A relative, Bronwyn Nel, took to social media to express the impact of Gillian Malouw’s life.
She wrote, “Your loss will be felt for years to come because you left your mark on this world and in everyone’s minds and lives, my girl.”
Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends and fellow Navy personnel who had the privilege of knowing and loving her.
Written by Sarah du Toit for Cape Town ETC.
Feature Image: Facebook / Cape Flats Stories