MRS takes shape

The SA Navy’s Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) is taking shape and will shortly receive a boost in capability when equipment worth R85 million is delivered.
The MRS was established by Navy chief Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu in 2006 to provide the sea service with an amphibious, inshore, lake and riverine capability built around near-shore boats, naval “infantry” and divers.
Navy chief director of maritime warfare, Rear Admiral Bernard Teuteberg says the squadron, commanded by a naval captain, consists of a Boats Division equipped with 26 Namacurra harbour patrol boats and six Lima-class Landing Craft Utility, a Reaction Division, consisting of an infantry-like company and a Diving Division consisting of one or more operational diving detachments.
The Reaction Division is in a process of expansion and will in the long term – perhaps as much as five years – muster a regular and a Reserve Force company.
Naval Forces journal has reported that their mission is to provide ships` security parties with a particular focus on preventing asymmetrical (terrorist or suicide-boat) attack in or near ports or in a littoral environment while also providing boarding parties for opposed boarding operations, armed parties to conduct search-and-seizure operations on inland water and armed landing parties for small ship-to-shore and shore-to-shore amphibious operations.
The company is armed an organised along motorised infantry lines and consists of three platoons and a headquarters. Light arms include three 60mm M4 patrol mortars, R4 assault rifles, SS77 general purpose machine guns and Y1 40mm 6-shot multiple grenade launchers.     
The division will be able to deploy as part of a naval task group or together with an infantry battalion. The SA Army`s 9 SA Infantry Battalion is currently tasked for this role.   
The Boats Division will gain new boats from Xena, with 15 10.3m boats on order. In addition to a crew of three the boats will be able to carry a section of Reaction Division troops. The boats will divide into three subdivisions supported by a mobile shore facility that includes accommodation and a containerised headquarters fitted with advanced command-and-control (C2) equipment.
The Xena user requirement specification (URS) for the project`s C2 communication and information management system (C3IMS) component says the Navy currently has “a limited OBS capability, comprising boats, armament and a rudimentary communication system that were hastily put together out of items readily available from existing inventory”.
The C3IMS specification calls for three subsystems: one for C2, one for communications and a third for surveillance. The Navy wants all the required hardware, software and logistics support delivered by December next year.
The URS also specifies a “turnkey” C3IMS solution “of low to medium complexity that will be fully supportable under difficult conditions far removed from a home base infrastructure by low-level technical personnel”.
The boats will be fitted with a radio, radar and tracking suite, which will connect with the shore-based C3IMS. The base will also be fitted with observation equipment, the USR specifying a local surveillance radar, as well as “some basic night visual cameras”. Also required is a Link ZA data link.
“The C2 [sub]system shall provide for the automatic plotting of patrol boats, as well as all moving targets detected by the surveillance radar, all superimposed on the same grid system,” the USR adds. “Track correlation shall be done by operator intervention. The C2 [sub]system shall also include the controls and displays of the base night surveillance cameras.”
The USR further specifies detailed requirements for the C3IMS, including that the base “shall be equipped with a wireless LAN [local area network] system. This network shall be used for the switching and distribution of both data and telephone VOIP communication… internally, as well as externally, via the satellite comms terminal. The digital telephone instruments shall be interconnected via the wireless LAN to provide a local ‘PABX-like’ capability.”
The LAN will also connect with a file server, two radio data entry terminals to provide adequate coverage of the base area for the wireless LAN, 10 desktop computers, 30 digital telephone instruments, two A4 monotone laser printers and two A4 inkjet colour printers.
System performance is specified at “at least 1MB per second for computer-computer data exchanges. The LAN capacity shall be that it could be expanded to accommodate at least 20 data users and 50 telephone users. The maximum range coverage of the wireless LAN shall not exceed 300m.”
A modest action information system (AIS) is also required that will display the local area in the form of a standard colour electronic chart with a latitude and longitude grid reference system. “The AIS shall display the positions of all active patrol boats on the grid systems as derived from the Link-ZA message[s] … sent out automatically by the boats when on patrol.”
Other than the boat and C3IMS segments, Xena will also see the Navy gain camp equipment for the base camps as well as transport means for the equipment and some light arms.