South Africa’s east coast between Durban and Richards Bay is set to be a hive of naval activity for 10 days in February when warships from the Russian Federation Navy (RFN) and China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) exercise with a single SA Navy (SAN) platform.
The exercise carries the same name as the first involving three BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries – Mosi (smoke) –held in South African territorial waters between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Columbine in November 2019.
February’s exercise will carry the same name and see three Chinese, two Russian and a lone South African naval platform the Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said in response to a defenceWeb inquiry. Vessel names and types are not disclosed with DCC pointing out “the number of vessels might change at short notice”. Information on the exercise was provided in the wake of a final – virtual – planning conference last month (December) where all three countries’ navies were represented.
The maritime service of the SANDF will have a ship’s crew involved in Mosi ll as one component of what is expected to be about 350 military personnel in the South African exercise deployment. Apart from SAN personnel, probably including specialists from the maritime reaction squadron (MRS), other national defence force services and divisions involved are the SA Air Force (SAAF), SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) as well as the Joint Operations, Defence Intelligence, Defence Foreign Relations, Military Police and Legal Services divisions.
The alongside phase of the serialised programme from 17 to 24 February will see PLAN, RFN and SAN vessels come alongside in Richards Bay and replenish while forces prepare for the sea phase. A number of naval activities are planned for the alongside phase in line with standard practice throughout all navies. One of these is courtesy calls to various stakeholders in the domains of Durban and Richard’s Bay ports.
The sea phase starts on 25 and runs for two days with all ships sailing in the Durban and Richard’s Bay area for a number of serials. These include search and rescue, vessel in distress, officer of the watch manoeuvres as well as gunnery, force protection and air defence exercises.