Foreign warships arrive in Cape Town for inaugural naval exercise


After six months of planning, warships from Russia and China arrived in Cape Town this past weekend for the inaugural Exercise Mosi, a multinational maritime exercise hosted by South Africa.

The exercise is scheduled to take place off the southern Cape coast over the period 25 to 30 November. According to the South African Navy (SAN), the exercise is primarily focused on maritime economic security, interoperability and maintaining the good relations between the participating navies.

Arrival day for the foreign warships was Sunday 24 November, with Russian fleet tanker Vjazma and rescue tug SB406 berthing inside Table Bay Harbour, joining SA Navy fleet support vessel SAS Drakensberg and hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea inside the commercial port.

At 13:45, a 21 Gun Salute was exchanged between the Russian Navy Slava-class missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov and the South African Navy battery on Lion’s Head which overlooks the harbour. A 21 Gun salute is an international naval tradition and stems from the days of sail and wooden ships. As the ships’ guns were loaded with gunpowder and only had one projectile, the ship would fire its guns when entering a friendly harbour, in order to harmlessly expend the gunpowder, indicating the ship is not a threat. The gun battery ashore would then also harmlessly fire its guns to indicate that their guns have been rendered ineffective. This would indicate the ship is welcome to enter the harbour. This tradition evolved through the years and now the 21 gun salute is adopted by most navies worldwide.

The Chinese vessel Weifangin Cape Town.

Thereafter, Marshal Ustinov and the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 054A frigate Weifang berthed at V&A Waterfront Jetty 2, joining the SA Navy frigate SAS Amatola which had arrived the previous day.

The vessels were greeted by SA Navy Flag Officer Fleet, Rear Admiral Bulele Mhlana, PLAN Rear Admiral Zongcheng Liu and Russian Rear Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Zemskov.

Exercise Mosi will be conducted over five days, with the first three days alongside and the last two days with the execution of a sea programme.

The theme of the exercise is ‘The promotion of Safe Navigation and Maritime Economic Security’, with the following strategic and operational objectives:
• Development of Chinese, Russian and South African relations through the reinforcement of multinational exercises between the three nations;
• Training of a Multinational Task Organisation to counter security threats at sea; and
• Demonstration of a multinational willingness to ensure regional maritime peace, security and stability.

The alongside phase will focus on finalisation of planning, finalisation of sea programmes as well as military social and cultural activities amongst others.

The Sea Phase, on 28 and 29 November, will focus on surface gunnery exercises, helicopter cross deck landings, boarding operations and disaster control exercises.

The ships berthed at the V&A Waterfront Jetty 2 (SAS Amatola, Marshal Ustinov and Weifang) will be open to the public on Tuesday 26 November between 9:30 and 13:00. The queue for the Marshal Ustinov will be closing earlier.