Naval capabilities honed during Ex Red Lion


Last month saw the SA Navy undertake its biannual readiness exercise – Red Lion – in preparation for missions as and when tasked by SANDF Joint Operations.

Own forces only is the norm for Red Lion but this year’s iteration saw the Royal Navy vessels HMS Lancaster and RFA Gold Rover take part in a passex. The vessels were in South Africa for an informal visit and maintenance at Simon’s Town as part of their Atlantic deployment, which saw them visit Tristan da Cunha. They will visit Cape Town between 23 and 28 September.

As has become standard, Red Lion takes place in the greater False Bay area and saw SAS Spioenkop, SAS Galeshewe, SAS Isaac Dyobha, SAS Umhloti and SAS Manthatisi all taking part. The SA Air Force provided a Super Lynx maritime helicopter from 22 Squadron at AFB Ysterplaat and a Hawk Mk 120 Lead-In Fighter-Trainer from 85 Combat flying School at AFB Makhado.

Evolutions practised during the first sea phase by the task group included air defence, helicopter operations and Officer of the Watch manoeuvres as well as the passing exercise with the British vessels.

The final five days of Red Lion 2015 were devoted to sea patrols, replenishment at sea approaches, vertical hoisting (personnel) by helicopter, personnel transfer exercises and the maritime reaction squadron honing it boarding skills.

The Navy said after the exercise: “Red Lion provided the task group with an opportunity to test and evaluate different standard operating procedures during evolutions ensuring all serials were conducted safely and correctly. The whole exercise was safely executed and the lessons learnt will be noted and implemented during future exercises and operations”.

While Red Lion was taking place along the coast, the South African Army and Air Force were conducting Exercise Young Eagle at several locations around the country. Young Eagle 2015 involved 5 000 personnel and was designed to prepare, assess and exercise the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) airborne capability and assess the crisis response capability of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), of which the South African National Defence Force is a key part.