Sea Phase of international naval exercise commences


The inaugural multinational maritime exercise Mosi, hosted by South Africa with participation from Russia and China, has commenced its sea phase.

The alongside phase commenced on 25 November with the sea phase taking place off the southern Cape coast on 28 and 29 November, focusing on surface gunnery exercises, helicopter cross deck landings, boarding operations and disaster control exercises.

Captain (SA Navy) Mike Boucher has been appointed Commander of the seven-vessel Task Force 344, comprising Russian Navy Slava-class missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov, fleet tanker Vjazma and rescue tug SB406, Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 054A frigate Weifang and South African Navy frigate SAS Amatola, navy fleet support vessel SAS Drakensberg and hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea.

Speaking to defenceWeb, Boucher explained that the Task Force will comprise three Task Groups, representing each of the participating countries.

As Task Force Commander, he will provide and set the aims and objectives from an operational and strategic point of view, but will allow each Task Group Commander to execute the serials.

South Africa has mostly exercised with Western navies who operate to a very similar doctrine and standard. This exercise is the first time the SA Navy will exercise with Eastern Bloc nations and presents new challenges, particularly language, and thus the serials are being kept simple.

Said SA Navy Flag Officer Fleet, Rear Admiral Bulele Mhlana: “There is an issue of language out at sea as we struggle to communicate with each other. However, the maritime language is common and we have these few days to better the understanding between the foreign navy crews.”

“Languages is a barrier but we working through it,” Boucher explained, “As with naval exercises of this nature, you start off small and then you develop, as we’ve done with Exercises Atlasur, Good Hope and Ibsamar.”

“(They) also started off small and we got to very complex exercises, firing guns and missiles and doing complex anti-air warfare and anti-submarine exercises. And I’m sure, in time, if we’re given an opportunity, we will develop into that.”

With a theme of “The promotion of Safe Navigation and Maritime Economic Security” a major component of the exercise is disaster control, whereby SAS Protea will be the designated ship in distress for which a set of scenarios have been scripted. This include simulated fires, floods and medical emergencies.

The second major exercise will involve a non-compliant piracy type scenario, leading to a combined boarding with the three nations and seizing back control of the ship.

With naval helicopters being an organic component of a modern warship, the South Africans are taking full advantage of the cross-deck opportunities offered by the exercise.

The Surface Gunnery portion of the exercise will involve the firing of weapons with a calibre of 30 mm or less.

Mhlana noted “how privileged we are as the South African Navy, to have our guests come all the way to our seas for this exercise.”

As the only international exercise the SA Navy is participating in this year, Boucher is confident that the South African ships and sailors will do justice to the exercise to make it a success. “I’m looking forward to it, it should be pretty good.”