The South African Navy is holding an Inter-departmental and International Maritime exercise in Richards Bay under the auspices of Chief of Joint Operations of the South African National Defence Force. The exercise commenced on the 14th of September and will continue until the 2nd of October 2015.
The SA Navy and the South Indian Ocean Naval Forces stationed in La Reunion have a vested interest in protecting the shipping lanes in the Mozambican channel and so, the concept of joint and multinational maritime training was established within the frame work of Exercise Oxide, the South African Navy said.
In addition to fostering regional military partnerships, the main purpose of the exercise is to exercise interoperability and develop plans between the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre in Cape Town and the Maritime Coordination Rescue Centre La Reunion. Both entities should be ready to intervene in case of a maritime emergency upon any foreign government request. Exercise Oxide will allow for the French & South African MRCC’s to test their abilities in dealing with a multi-agency Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. As such, a Maritime Search and Rescue (MSR) operation will be simulated during the first phase of the exercise.
The South African Hydrographic Vessel, SAS Protea (A324), along with the Offshore Patrol Vessel, SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565) and the French light Surveillance frigate, FNS Floreal (F730) came alongside in Richards Bay on 14 September 2015. The first week of the exercise involved marrying up drills between the French Forces and the South African forces, a media briefing and courtesy calls to the office of the Mayor, Chief Magistrate and the Port Captain of Richards Bay.
The exercise will simulate a distressed passenger liner scenario approximately 20 miles offshore from Richards Bay where French and South African air, maritime and medical forces, port authorities and various governments department and agencies will simulate a MSR operation.
The medical component will test interoperability with a sea rescue-boat transfer to the Combat Support Ship, a Medevac execution from a helicopter to shore, lift hoisting capability testing from the sea to a boat, testing of integrated communications systems, SAR survivor management at sea, Casualty dis-embarkment and transfer management to Port/Disaster Management agencies in port during the exercise.
The second stage of the exercise will focus on intervention operations such as High Value Target extractions and submarine infiltration from the French and South African Special Forces. The Maritime Reaction Squadron is also present to conduct amphibious beach landing.
The exercise aims to establish co-operation, interoperability and combined operations at sea to give both the French & South African forces practical experience in supporting humanitarian MSR operations.