The Royal Australian Navy’s helicopter frigate HMAS Anzac arrived in Cape Town on Monday 6 July as part of her Northern Trident 2015 deployment.
The warship departed Sydney on 15 March for the Mediterranean to participate in the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli during the First World War. Having transited the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Suez Canal, the Mediterranean Sea and the North and South Atlantic en route to Cape Town, Anzac will host an official reception on board in commemoration of the centenary.
Other Centenary of Anzac commemorative events at which the warship represented Australia during her five month deployment include events in the Sea of Marmara, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Italy and Malta, along with ‘D Day’ commemorations at Normandy.
Both the Australian and South African navies are members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and Australia says that Anzac’s visit to Cape Town will provide an important opportunity to work with the South African Navy.
Anzac’s Commanding Officer since December 2014, Commander Belinda Wood, described the significance of the visit.
“As we work together on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-piracy and information sharing and interoperability, we look forward to growing the professional relationship between our navies.
“We may be situated at opposite sides of a very large ocean, but it is a vital territory to the world’s maritime prosperity and the issues and challenges we face are very much the same.”
Scheduled to depart Cape Town on the morning of Friday 10 July, the ship will exercise with the South African Navy prior to calling at Mauritius before returning to Sydney in August. The exercises with the SAN will most likely consist of a PASEX which will include Officer-of-the Watch exercises.
A commemorative service will also be held on 7 July at Dido Valley cemetery (Simon’s Town) where four Royal Australian Navy sailors who lost their lives during WWII are buried.
HMAS Anzac (FFH 150) is the lead ship of eight Anzac class frigates in use with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). HMAS Anzac was accompanied from the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea by fellow Anzac-class frigate HMNZS Te Kaha (F77) of the Royal New Zealand Navy. This class is based on the German MEKO 200 frigate design, of which the SA Navy operates four modernised versions under the Valour-class.
Entering Australian service in 1996, Anzac is fitted with an advanced package of air surveillance radars, hull mounted sonar and electronic support systems that interface with the weapons systems. Anzac’s armament comprises a five-inch (127-mm) gun, Harpoon missiles, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles and Ship Launched Torpedoes. She usually deploys with a Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk multi-role helicopter.
Anzac was the third ship of the class to undergo the Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) upgrade in 2014, with the Northern Trident 2015 deployment being her first deployment post-refit.
The Gallipoli Campaign took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. On that day in April, thousands of young Australians, together with troops from New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, France, India, and Newfoundland, stormed the beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsula. By the time the campaign ended, more than 130,000 men had died, including more than 8,700 Australians. In the wider story of the First World War, the New Zealand History website notes that the Gallipoli campaign made no large mark. However, for New Zealand, along with Australia and Turkey, the Gallipoli campaign is often claimed to have played an important part in fostering a sense of national identity.