Preparations underway for Ex Ibsamar 2024

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A recent flurry of ashore activity at SA Navy (SAN) fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town signalled earnest intentions for a multinational naval exercise later this year.

Flag Officer Fleet, Rear Admiral Musawenkosi “Kop” Nkomonde, received the Brazilian and Indian defence attachés along with SAN Captain SM Majozi, the designated exercise director for Ex Ibsamar 2024, ahead of the initial exercise planning conference for Exercise Ibsamar later this year. Indian Navy Captain Atul Sapaphia, according to Commander Leverne Nsibande, is India’s defence advisor to Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with Marinha do Brasil Captain Rodrigo Mynssen Fonseca Dos Santos the South American country’s defence and naval attaché to South Africa.

The initial planning meeting held between 11 and 15 March for the eighth iteration of the tri-nation naval exercise led by the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Nsibande reported, “underscored the commitment of all three nations” to making Ex Ibsamar 2024 a success.

The exercise is seen as a symbol of the shared Brazilian, Indian and South African commitment to maritime security, stability and freedom of navigation in the world’s oceans. “As maritime powers, these nations recognise the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing common challenges such as piracy, illegal fishing and maritime terrorism,” the commander wrote.

Ibsamar is testament to the growing strategic partnerships between the three participating countries. By leveraging each other’s strengths and expertise, Brazil, India and South Africa enhance their maritime capabilities and contribute positively to regional and international security architecture, the SA Navy said.

The successful execution of Ex Ibsamar VIII – with no date given as yet – will show the operational readiness of the three participating navies and provide for an exchange of best practices and boost co-operation and friendship. This extends to support elements such as the SA Air Force (SAAF), SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) and the SAN maritime reaction squadron (MRS).

The previous edition of Exercise Ibsamar took place in October 2022 around Algoa Bay, but there was no Brazilian participation that year. Also notable for the most recent edition was the participation of the first SA Navy multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (MMIPV), SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571), which had been taken into service in May. Two more are joining the SA Navy fleet.

The South African Navy has already hosted one international exercise this year, with Germany, although on a small scale. Exercise Good Hope VIII took place in Saldanha on the Cape West Coast from 21 January to 6 February and was more modest than previous editions in scale due to real-world commitments affecting the German Navy’s ability to send vessels to South Africa and the South African Navy facing challenges in providing vessels.

The German contingent consisted of a Boarding Company from the German Navy Sea Battalion based in Eckernfoerde. The South African contingent was primary represented by the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) including the Operational Boat Element, Navy divers, 13 Provost of the Military Police, and the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS).