Joint Navy/City of Cape Town disaster exercise


The South African Navy will hold a joint disaster exercise with the City of Cape Town this week.

Coordinated by the Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre (CoCT DRMC), Operation Beachy will be held on Tuesday March 12 off the coast of Mouille Point, within sight of the Cape Town CBD. The Operation is included in the second phase of Exercise Red Lion, the annual Naval Force Employment exercise taking place from 4 to 15 March 2013 around Cape Town.

During Operation Beachy, the frigate SAS Spioenkop will simulate a cruise ship. With National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) participation, Operation Beachy is the third in a series of exercises dealing with various hazards in the City of Cape Town. The aim is to expose all the role-players to as realistic a scenario as possible, whereby their response and recovery actions and inter-service co-operation and integration can be assessed.

An important aspect of the Operation is that less emphasis is being placed on measuring aspects such as response times and more on actual involvement and achieving set objectives. The focus of “working together” is achieved for this exercise, as opposed to testing actual responses from the participants’ respective bases.

The NSRI is the overall Exercise Co-ordinator for the Maritime elements of the Operation, with the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC) responsible for the land-based elements.

For purposes of the exercise, SAS Spioenkop will act as the stricken cruise ship from which passengers and crew, including “casualties”, must be evacuated. A number of locations in the area will be used, such as the actual ship, the Port of Cape Town and Cape Town Stadium where a Mass Care Centre and passenger processing and verification centre will be established. Landing locations include the V&A Waterfront and the Mouille Point Lighthouse. Oryx helicopters from 22 Squadron at AFB Ysterplaat will also be participating, as will those from the SAPS Air Wing and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Another community based tasking to be performed the Navy during Exercise Red Lion this week includes salvage diving operations on the wreck of Seli 1. The MV Seli 1 was a Turkish bulk carrier that was driven aground off Bloubergstrand near Table Bay by strong winds shortly after midnight on September 8, 2009.

The Navy, who recently carried out an investigation and survey of the wreck, have been enlisted by the Department of Transport to undertake the wreck reduction work. The wreck reduction is intended to strategically weaken the wreck structure and, with the help of the ocean forces, collapse it onto the seabed.

Following the exercise, SAS Spioenkop will transit to Saldanha Bay for the final phase of Exercise Red Lion.