The South African Navy has commenced its first major force preparation exercise of 2013, which is taking place from 4 to 15 March around Cape Town.
Held annually, Exercise Red Lion is run by Fleet Command and concentrates its efforts on preparing all available vessels for future Force Employment as a Task Group.
According to the Navy, the exercise aims to tests the abilities of the Task Group to maintain a persistent presence at sea, including patrols, surveillance and the conduct of Maritime Interdiction Operations.
The main objectives of Exercise Red Lion 2013 are to:
• Improve multi-ship interoperability
• Improve inter-ship communications
• Exercise surface and subsurface interaction
The exercise will require the Navy to provide Force Protection capability whilst alongside and at anchor, as well as to conduct ad-hoc taskings in support of the “people and other government departments.” The latter includes salvage diving operations on SELI 1 (on request by Cape Town Harbour) and Operation Beachy, co-ordinated by the Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre.
Vessels participating in the exercise include the frigate SAS Spioenkop, the off-shore patrol vessel SAS Isaac Dyobha, the two minehunters SAS Umhloti and SAS Umzimkulu as well as the submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke.
In addition to the warships, embedded Maritime Reaction Squadron members will provide capabilities such as Sea Boarding and Force Protection.
South African Air Force aircraft will also be participating in the sea phase, contributing C-130BZ Hercules transports, Oryx and Super Lynx helicopters.
The Task Group Commander is Captain DR Faure, who will be based onboard SAS Spioenkop during the exercise and will rove amongst participating entities as required.
The first phase, between 4 and 10 March, involves detailed planning and onshore training and safety exercises. Practical drills include search and rescue exercise conducted by SAS Umhloti off Cape Point and a basic harbour fire exercise.
The second phase, to take place on Tuesday 12 March, involves Operation Beachy off Mouille Point, whereby SAS Spioenkop will simulate a cruise ship. With NSRI participation, Operation Beachy is the third in a series of exercises dealing with various hazards in the City of Cape Town and the aim is to expose all the role-players to as realistic scenario as possible whereby their response and recovery actions and inter-service co-operation and integration can be assessed.
SAS Spioenkop will then transit to Saldanha Bay for the final phase of the exercise. More exercises, such as periscope, vertical replenishment at sea, towing exercises, prowling exercise and gunnery exercises are scheduled in and around the Saldanha Bay area.