The SA Navy (SAN) is going to sea in March with an offshore patrol deployment planned for the Kosi Bay/Mozambique coastline.
The tasking was made public by Captain Aneliswe Tamela of SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Joint Operations KwaZulu-Natal headquarters, reporting on a maritime pre-deployment conference at the provincial tactical headquarters on 30 November.
The report does not specify which SAN assets will be used for the Operation Corona (border protection and safeguarding) tasking, listing three “diverse tasks” discussed at the conference. They are patrolling the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) along the far northern stretch of the South African coastline, “denial of illegal movement of people and goods” and protecting marine resources from “illegal harvesting by local, foreign and unlicensed entities”.
In addition to SAN and Joint Operations representatives, the conference was attended by the SA Police Service (SAPS), the “Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries” (now the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment [DFFE]) and Border Management Authority (BMA), Richards Bay. Those present, Tamela reports, made the conference a critical step to share insights, exchange ideas and co-ordinate efforts for the upcoming “joint inter-departmental and inter-agency operation”.
On the table were mission objectives, security briefings and input from “other departments”.
As far as is known, the March tasking is the first Op Corona deployment for the SAN since October when elements from the maritime reaction squadron (MRS) and at least one Namacurra harbour patrol boat were in action off Overstrand in the Western Cape Province. That tasking was reported as being to “combat” abalone poaching as well as “curbing other illegal activity”.
Going further north in Mozambican territorial waters, the SAN has not deployed any vessel as part of Operation Copper, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) anti-piracy tasking in the Mozambique Channel, in the past three years. The other SAN deployment to South Africa’s eastern neighbour was in March this year for Operation Vikela, the South African component of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). The Valour Class frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147) was the SAN platform tasked following prioritising of the SAN maintenance and repair budget.