South Africa and Germany aiming to hold long-delayed naval exercise in 2024


South Africa and Germany will next year hold the eighth iteration of the Good Hope naval exercise, after a six-year hiatus compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said in a statement on 30 August that a planning conference for Exercise Good Hope VIII will take place in Saldanha from 11 to 15 September.

“This exercise is a bi-annual exercise where South Africa is the host and leading nation. The exercise will be a tactical exercise consisting of mainly maritime assets but will be supported by land, air and military health services components,” SA Navy Captain Jaco Theunissen stated.

“As the exercise is maritime heavy the South African Navy will be the lead service for the exercise but the exercise will be directed by the Joint Operations Division. Brigadier General PF Dlamini, the Director Force Preparation and Training from the Joint Operations Division, will be the exercise director and the Joint Task Force Commander will be Captain (SA Navy) CJ McKenzie.”

The last edition of Good Hope was held in Germany in February/March 2017. The sole South African participant was the frigate SAS Amatola, which had sailed to the United Kingdom for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on 21 February 1917. The vessel laid wreaths and took SS Mendi descendants to the site of the sinking. On the way back from Exercise Good Hope VII, the SAS Amatola visited several African nations.

Exercise Good Hope has normally taken place every second year in South Africa – 2017 was the first time it was held in Europe due to austerity measures and other commitments and exercises Germany was hosting at the same time.

The eight edition of Good Hope was supposed to take place around Saldanha between late January and early February 2022, but was put on hold due to high levels of coronavirus infection in Germany. At the time, the German Health Ministry rated South Africa a “high crisis region” for the pandemic which, while allowing travel, meant up to 14 days quarantine on returning home.