In 1979 the South African set up a new marine unit to serve as a marine infantry unit. This force was to be short lived, being disbanded in 1990. It was planned that the unit would be of brigade strength, but in the end it only ever had two battalions. The original idea was for the unit to be involved in full scale amphibious operations in Angola or Mozambique, however a combination of stronger defences in these regions and South African budget cuts saw the role changed to one of providing beach head protection whilst extracting special forces units.
The unit saw action in the Bush Wars. Operations included deployments to Sector 10 in central Owambo for counter insurgency operations as well as deployment in support of SADF and SWATF units during Operation Daisy in November 1981 and later SADF raids into southern Angola. Subsequently, the Marines were withdrawn from Section 10 and re-deployed to Sector 70 in the north east of South-West Africa, where deployments were made from Wenela in the eastern Caprivi covering a 50 km land border with Zambia to the west and 200 km of riverine border to the east. The Marines occupied the most easterly point of South-West Africa – Impalila island at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers, observing and photographing vehicle traffic crossing the Zambezi on the Kazungula ferry.
The unit adopted its own insignia and it is an example of this, from the barrack and parade dress, that we are looking at today:
The globe and anchor device is a traditional one for marines, the same motifs are used by the US Marine Corps for instance. The Lion above was the symbol adopted by South Africa at this period. The style of the badge is very naval, as one would expect from a unit so closely allied with the navy. On operations the men wore typical subdued insignia:
The unit was finally disbanded in 1990 as part of a restructuring of the navy following the ending of the Bush Wars