The South African Navy (SA Navy) has accepted an invitation from the Indian Navy to participate in the Indian International Fleet Review next year.
Over 100 warships and submarines from 60 countries are expected to take part in the naval event which will be held at Visakhapatnam in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on February 6, 2016. This city, on the Indian east coast, is headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
The South African and Indian navies have a close relationship, with both services being members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) as well as being partners, together with Brazil, in the IBSAMAR series of biennial naval exercises that takes place along the South African coast.
The International Fleet Review is being hosted by India to build better relationships with other nations. This will be the first time India will host an International Fleet Review, with all previous reviews having the status of Presidential Fleet Review.
An Indian Ministry of Defence spokesperson said “a Naval Fleet Review is a long-standing tradition of navies world-over. The Review was conceived as a show of naval might and readiness for battle. In India, thus far, 10 Reviews have been held, with the first in 1953 and the latest in 2011. The Review aims at assuring the country of the Indian Navy’s preparedness, high moral and discipline.”
Whilst the SAN has still to confirm the actual vessel that will make the 9,000 km (4,900 nm) voyage to the Indian sub-continent, it is likely the honour will fall to the frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147). Spioenkop is no stranger to Asia, having conducted a three month, six-country visit to the Far East, including China, during 2008.
Expected to depart Naval Base Simon’s Town on January 16, the frigate will transit to India via Mauritius and will participate in naval exercises with the Indian Navy. The two to three month expedition will return to South Africa via Sri Lanka and Tanzania (Dar es Salaam).
Other planned activities surrounding the Review at Visakhapatnam include an International Maritime Conference and an Exhibition on Naval Systems. It has not yet been confirmed if the Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwane, will join the other Navy Chiefs attending the review.