The just completed Exercise Oxide off South Africa’s east coast in the Richards Bay area saw in excess of 230 activities successfully executed in what has been called a “unique” exercise for the SA Navy (SAN).
“Exercise Oxide was unique in that it was the first time an exercise of this magnitude was conducted away from a SAN home support base,” Corporate Communications Officer Commander Cara Pratten said.
“The crux of the exercise was to plan for and have sufficient logistic support to sustain a deployment of 638 people from different units and countries for a month. This proved to be the backbone of the exercise and several lessons were learnt,” she said, adding they would be added to the maritime arm of service’s knowledge base for future use.
The 2015 iteration of Exercise Oxide had as its overall objective exercising inter-operability between national and international rescue organisations as well as naval entities.
“This was accomplished with resounding success,” Pratten said.
The co-ordinated search and rescue component of Oxide was conducted in collaboration with Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Committees based in Cape Town and La Reunion.
The second objective was to exercise specific sea serials. These included advanced interdiction and boarding, Special Forces activities, establishment of a beach head and beach landings done by the Navy’s Maritime Reaction Squadron and sea manoeuvres such as light line transfers, personnel transfers, vertical replenishment and gunnery firing.
Two highlights for the French contingent as seen through the eyes of the Officer Commanding FNS Floreal, Commander Francois-Xavier Waroux, were a towex (towing exercise) with SAS Protea and the professionalism of the SA Navy shown by its sea riders aboard the French light surveillance frigate.
The towex was conducted in wind conditions exceeding 20 knots and Waroux said that presentations were all not perfect because of the wind but this did not stop it from being a good exercise.
Waroux said the SAN midshipmen tasked with manning the Chaka communications system aboard the French frigates handled themselves professionally at all times.
“The quality of South African midshipmen bodes well for the future of the SA Navy,” he said after the exercise.
In total 307 activities were planned for oxide 2015 and 238 were executed in accordance with the serialised programme. Cancellations were mostly due to weather.
The execution of serials was measured according to an “after-action review” reporting format for each activity. The lessons learned were discussed in detail at the technical debrief held on October 5.
“One of the most important aspects of any exercise is analysing the application of current military doctrine and reassessing it for future utilisation and Oxide provided the conditions to do precisely this. In future, all relevant guidelines, policies and after-action reports will be clearly visible so as to improve performance,” Pratten said.
La Reunion is set to host Exercise Oxide 2017.