The pall of the COVID-19 coronavirus has not deterred planners from three navies putting heads together in anticipation of Exercise Ibsamar in September.
According to a SA Navy statement “although all exercises have been cancelled until further notice, planning (for Ibsamar) continued as all members from participating countries were in Simon’s Town when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced actions to be taken concerning the COVID-19 pandemic”. Ramaphosa announced sweeping regulations on 15 March to contain the spread of the virus and is expected to make a second major announcement this week.
Ibsamar is a joint, multi-national exercise held every second year with participation by India, Brazil and South Africa (hence its name).
The seventh iteration of the exercise is scheduled for 25 September to 2 October with South Africa the lead nation. Simon’s Town, where the SA Navy fleet is headquartered, and the Cape West Coast will be used by participating navies during the exercise.
At last week’s main planning conference, chaired by Brigadier General Gustav Lategan, Director: Force Preparation, attention was given to, among others, objectives of the exercise and its serials.
Other officers present were Rear Admiral (JG) Musa Nkomonde, exercise director; Captain Charl Maritz, combined joint task group commander (both SAN); Captain Pedro Silva Filho (defence attaché); Captain Andre Martins (commander task group); Lieutenant Commander Alexandre Ferreira and Lieutenant Commander Fabio Mello Santos (all Brazilian Navy) with the Indian Navy represented by defence attaché Captain Nitin Kapoor.
The schedule for Ibsamar 2020 currently has the Brazilian and Indian naval vessels in False Bay on 20 September and coming alongside the following day. Mobilisation and the exercise’s final planning conference are set down for 22 to 24 September with the first seas phase in False Bay from 25 to 27 September. This will be followed by a second sea phase on 28 September “in West Coast area” with demobilisation set down from 2 to 5 October.
None of the three participating navies has yet confirmed “asset pledges” for the exercise, the SA Navy statement said.