n Journal for Contemporary History - Onwaarskynlike ambassadeurs : vlagvertoonvaarte deur Suid-Afrikaanse oorlogskepe, 1922-2002

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



Although the primary role of the South African Navy will always be to defend the Republic of South Africa, its citizens, and its interests, the Navy has an equally important role to play in times of peace, for example to conduct a variety of assistance operations, including diplomatic support in the form of flag-showing cruises. During the first 80 years of the history of the South African Navy, i.e. from 1922 to 2002, its warships and submarines took part in 86 such peace-time flag-showing cruises to foreign countries, visiting about 100 ports in nearly 50 countries on all six continents. In this article a review is given of the flag-showing cruises by South Africa's naval vessels (grey diplomats) from 1 April 1922 to 1 April 2002, and nine phases have been identified. The overall aim is to determine the nature, extent and value of the South African Navy's diplomatic role.

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