Navies arrive for international maritime exercise


Indian and Brazilian navy ships arrived in Simon’s Town on Monday morning, ready to participate in Exercise IBSAMAR IV.

IBSAMAR is a joint maritime exercise between India, Brazil and South Africa, with the aim of providing collective training in order to build interoperability and mutual understanding between the respective navies.

Due to South Africa’s geographical location it was decided that Exercise IBSAMAR will mostly be hosted by South Africa with the leading role alternating amongst the countries. This year, it is once again the turn of South Africa to lead as Captain Jabu Mbotho undertakes the role of Commander Task Force under the watchful eye of the Exercise director, R Adm (JG) Thamsanwa Duze.

Exercise IBSAMAR IV will be conducted along the South and West Coasts of South Africa in False Bay, Lamberts Bay, Jacob’s Bay and Cape Agulhas during the period 26 October to 7 November 2014.

Technically, the exercise actually started on 13 October with the mobilization of forces, culminating in the arrival of the Brazilian corvette CV Barroso (V34) and the modern Indian frigate INS Teg (F45) at Naval Base Simon’s Town.

Accompanying the vessels are 200 members of the Brazilian Navy, which includes a Special Forces team and a Lynx Mk21A helicopter and 262 Indian personnel who have also brought a Special Forces team and a Chetak helicopter.

Whilst the Barroso has been to South Africa before, most recently for Exercise Atlasur IX in 2012, this is the first visit by the Teg, which was only commissioned in 2012 and is, according to her Commanding Officer, the most modern and stealthiest frigate in the Indian Navy.

As host nation, the South African National Defence Force will contribute 854 members from various units. The Navy’s contribution includes the frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147), SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565) Offshore Patrol Vessel, the minesweeper SAS Umhloti (M1212) and the Maritime Reaction Squadron. A further 160 SANDF members will provide support at the Joint Tactical Headquarters.

The submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101) will also be taking part, having recently undergone a total refit and maintenance overhaul after six years of being out of service. She has just completed her harbour acceptance trials and is in the final stages of completing her Sea Acceptance Trials. It would appear that both the German support team and senior South African engineering members are highly impressed with the quality and standard of the Sea Acceptance Trials.

Despite being a maritime exercise, the close cooperation between the South African Air Force (SAAF) and the SA Navy is evidenced by the participation of two Oryx transport helicopters and a Super Lynx maritime helicopter (attached to the Spioenkop) operated by 22 Squadron of AFB Ysterplaat, two ‘fighter’ aircraft from AFB Makhado (most likely Hawks), a C-130BZ Hercules from 28 Squadron and a C-47TP Dakota maritime surveillance aircraft from 35 Squadron, also of AFB Ysterplaat.

Another Western Cape airbase, AFB Langenbaanweg, will provide a PC-7 MK II trainer whilst the SAAF will also contribute two Tactical Mobile Radars from the Mobile Deployment Wing. An element from the Special Forces will also make its presence felt, joining the SA Special Forces unit.

The exercise will be divided into seven main events, being Special Force extraction of diplomatic personnel, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, survivor rescue and processing, opposed boarding, fire support (NGS) and asymmetrical threats.

With Stage 1 (Mobilization of forces) now complete, the exercise is progressing to Stage 2 (Ships alongside and harbour activities) which will run from 20 to 26 October.

Thereafter, Stage 3 (Maritime Operations) will commence. This stage comprises three phases, being the first sea phase of serialised programmes from 27 to 31 October (Phase 1), Operation Awkward/IMPI (Phase 2) from 1 to 3 November, followed by Phase 3 (2nd Sea Phase) which will see “Free Play” exercises from 3 to 6 November.

The closing and debrief (Stage 4) will run from 7 to 10 November, with the final Stage 5 comprising demobilization will take place from 10 to 14 November.

Duze urged his fellow participants to approach the exercise with an abundance of willpower and discipline. “The major purpose of the exercise is to sharpen our skills,” Duze told defenceWeb. “The most benefit of IBSAMAR exercise is the exchange of training experiences, we are learning from them, they are learning from us,” he said.

This was emphasised by the Indian Commander Task Group, Captain Anand Sardesai. “Navies exist for a common purpose, we exist for security and freedom of the seas,” Sardesai explained. “Once we have interoperability between nations, a wide range of options exist for dealing with contingencies, for example, piracy related contingencies and natural calamities.”

The Brazilian Commander Task Group, Captain Paulo Ferreira, echoed these sentiments, saying that South Africa was very important to Brazil and that the exercise provides an opportunity to exchange and share experiences and to learn.