An integral part of the maritime component of SAMIM (Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique) is shallow water island patrols conducted by elements of the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS).
Reliable and sturdy transport for squadron personnel comes in the form of South African workboats named Sea Rider by manufacturer Stingray Marine of Durbanville, Cape Town.
The MRS deployment currently on station off Mozambique aboard the Valour Class frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147) has a pair of Sea Riders, rechristened Dorado boats, for use in waterborne patrols and other taskings. These include visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS).
SAN Public Relations in the form of SSO Captain Sam Khasuli said in response to a defenceWeb enquiry the 9.2 metre long Dorados, with 1.8 metre beams, can carry 10 at a best economy speed of 34 knots. The three ton boats, if needed, can open up to 43 knots thanks to a pair of 200 horsepower Yamaha outboards. Their shallow draft makes the Dorados well-suited for beach deployments made better by a ramp door with a 1.25 ton axle weight rating.
The four-ringer did not elaborate on the Navy name Dorado, saying only the maritime service “opted” to drop Sea Rider in favour of Dorado, a fish species widely found in South African waters as well as elsewhere in the world, including Hawaii where it goes by the name “dolphinfish”.
The SA Navy (SAN) complement is part of a four-service SA National Defence Force (SANDF) deployment – Operation Vikela – to the regional bloc force attempting to end terrorism under the banner of ASWJ (Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah) Islamists in northern Mozambique.
The largest component comes from the SA Army currently in the form of Special Forces operators. They have been on the ground since the SAMIM force first arrived in Mozambique in the middle of last year. Support for them and other SADC troops comes from SA Air Force (SAAF) medium transport Oryx helicopters with full field medical support on site in Cabo Delgado province supplied by the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS).
The landward component of the South African deployment is understood to be changing in the not too distant future with Zeerust, North West-based 2 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion ready to go following a jungle training refresher at Entabeni in Limpopo.