SAS Protea (A324), the South African Navy’s hydrographic vessel, will be the lead South African platform in the upcoming Exercise Oxide later this month.
She, along with the offshore patrol vessel SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565) and the Type 209 submarine SAS Queen Modjadji (S103) make up the South African complement for the exercise starting in Richards Bay on September 21.
The French light surveillance frigate, FNS Floreal (F730), part of the French naval force stationed at La Reunion, will be the sole French vessel taking part in this year’s exercise. The previous Exercise Oxide took place off the Mozambican port of Maputo.
This year’s exercise will again emphasise the search and rescue aspect of naval operations and will also include a high value target extraction, giving French Commandos and South African maritime reaction squadron members and Special Forces the opportunity to hone their particular skills.
Other French forces taking part will be a seaborne Commando group and an infantry section aboard a CASA CN235.
Other South African military elements to be deployed for the exercise, which ends on October 2, include a 28 Squadron C-130BZ, a 35 Squadron C-47TP and possibly a Super Lynx maritime helicopter (22 Squadron) as well as Special Forces comprising a submarine team, a submarine parachute action group and an airborne team. SA Military Health Services (SAMHS) will have task teams ashore and aboard with an operational emergency care practitioner on each of the SA Navy platforms taking part.
The search and rescue component will be co-ordinated by the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cape Town and the Maritime Rescue Sub-regional Centre on La Reunion. It will centre round a distressed passenger liner scenario about 20 kilometres offshore from Richards Bay and will see all Exercise Oxide forces involved as well as the Richards Bay Port Authority and other government departments and agencies.
Military operations to be exercised include establishing an airhead either at Mtubatuba or Richards Bay airport, moving to Naval Island for the simulated high value extraction. Combat swimmers, attack divers, kayaks, inflatables, and delta boats will be utilised by Special Forces and the Maritime Reaction Squadron detachment.
The first week of sea operations coincide with World Maritime Day on September 24 and a number of events are planned for Richards Bay to mark the day.