Germany, South Africa kick-off Exercise Good Hope VIII next week

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After a six-year hiatus compounded by the global challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa and Germany are set to reignite their maritime partnership with the commencement of the eighth iteration of Exercise Good Hope.

The joint naval exercise is scheduled to commence in Saldanha Bay, Western Cape, next week.

The last edition of Exercise Good Hope took place in Germany in February/March 2017, with the South African frigate SAS Amatola being the sole participant from the nation. This year’s exercise, however, will be more modest in scale due to real-world commitments affecting the German Navy’s ability to send vessels to South Africa.

Despite these constraints, the German Navy (Deutsche Marine) remains committed to maintaining the momentum of the partnership. The German Navy Marine Reaction Unit will arrive in Cape Town via air, underscoring the dedication to sustaining the collaborative spirit of Exercise Good Hope.

Joint Operations communication officer Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen noted the biennial nature of Exercise Good Hope, where South Africa assumes the role of the host and leading nation.

“The exercise will be a tactical exercise consisting of mainly maritime assets but will be supported by land, air and military health services components,” Theunissen previously explained.

Captain (Navy) Thomas Burchert, the German Defence Attaché to South Africa, emphasised the significance of continuing the partnership, expressing optimism that the exercise’s scale might evolve in the coming years.

“We want to keep the momentum and the partnership,” he told defenceWeb. “That’s why we’re doing it is on a small scale basis. In two years, it might look completely different again.”

The German contingent will engage with various South African units, including the Maritime Reaction Squadron of the South African Navy. The exercise will involve diverse activities such as area searches, vessel boarding and seizure operations and fast roping exercises. These simulations aim to enhance interoperability, foster mutual understanding and refine the capabilities of both naval forces in joint and combined operations.

The opening ceremony on 21 January will mark the commencement of Exercise Good Hope VIII, followed by a week-long serialized programme. The subsequent week will witness a scenario-based free-play exercise, providing participants with an opportunity to apply their acquired skills and adapt to dynamic and unpredictable situations.