Tanzania now part of Mozambique Channel patrols – SADC maritime committee

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Southern African regional maritime security has long been led by South Africa evidenced by ongoing – although irregular – patrols in the Mozambique Channel.

This is changing with the Tanzanian Navy now deploying a warship in the heavily trafficked sea lane off the east coast of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) according to a SA Navy (SAN) statement. The statement, issued on conclusion of an SADC Standing Maritime Committee (SMC) meeting in Cape Town this week, has it “until recently, the SAN deployed three warships to patrol the Mozambique Channel. Recently they were joined by the Tanzanian Navy, who deployed a war vessel”.

The three-day SMC meeting was chaired by SAN Chief, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, and attended by five SADC senior naval representatives. Countries present were Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

SMC objectives include provision of mutual maritime security to ensure the freedom of sea lines of communication and development of a maritime military capacity to meet emergencies requiring rapid military response.

To this end the SMC agreed to expedite operationalisation of the SADC’s integrated maritime security strategy (IMSS) and execute it to deal with emergencies and situations threatening the sovereignty and security of SADC countries.

South Africa will conduct and host a naval co-ordination and guidance of shipping (NCAGS) course this year. The course, according to the statement “is critical in monitoring shipping and maritime activities in the Southern African region at sea, coastal and in inland waters”. The SAN will develop a train-the-trainer course with other SADC countries to ensure NCAGS skills are transferred to SADC militaries to train military personnel in this specialist maritime field.

Another step toward better utilisation of each other’s facilities and skills comes from an SMC decision to visit each other’s marine domain awareness centres (MDACs) to co-ordinate and learn “from each other maritime operations, integration and processing of maritime-related information”.

Additionally, all SADC MDACs will be linked to forge inter-operability among SADC navies and maritime components.

Namibia has agreed to host the SADC Naval Penthalon from 26 to 30 June 2023. The visit to Namibia’s MDAC will coincide with the planning of an SADC maritime exercise in Swakopmund from 7 to 10 June.

Tanzania and the DRC will host the planning of Exercise Migebuka, a riverine and inland military exercise designed to allocate maritime assets and resources to the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) until its withdrawal.

The statement added that the DRC has volunteered to host the next 30th SMC meeting in the DRC between 11 and 15 March 2024.