Coronavirus puts paid to Ex Ibsamar


There will be no Exercise Ibsamar this year. The tri-nation naval exercise is cancelled, not postponed, according to the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

First staged in 2014 and every second year since, Ibsamar has been held at the home ports of the three participating navies – Brazil, India and South Africa – with the SA Navy fleet headquarters Simon’s Town assigned host duties for the 2020 exercise.

All was well on track with a planning meeting in Simon’s Town in March. Indications then were those tasked with formulating and finalising the various components of Ibsamar were aware of coronavirus, at that stage still not declared a pandemic. Two days after the planning meeting ended, a national state of disaster was announced in South Africa with the country effectively locked down under what human rights organisations, including the UN, termed “draconian measures”.

The fourth Ibsamar is another victim of the pandemic. Joint Operations spokesman Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen confirmed to defenceWeb Ibsamar 2020 is cancelled. This effectively indicates South Africa loses its hosting rights with the 2022 exercise to be hosted in either Brazil or India.

Ibsamar was scheduled to start with Brazilian and Indian naval vessels entering False Bay on 20 September. Demobilisation was to take place between 2 and 5 October.

In 2018, the SA Navy deployed the Valour Class frigate SAS Amatola (F145), Heroine Class submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101) and the hydrographic vessel SAS Protea (A324) for the exercise.