The South African Navy’s frigate SAS Amatola has commenced Exercise Good Hope VII with Germany as part of her 96 day visit to European and African countries.
Amatola sailed to the United Kingdom for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on 21 February 1917, and laid wreaths and took SS Mendi descendants to the site of the sinking.
The frigate is taking part in various other taskings as part of Operation Ketane during the three month deployment. These include operational sea training, operations, exercises and diplomatic activities with other navies.
Before SS Mendi commemorations, the Amatola took part in exercises with the Royal Navy under the auspices of the Flag Officers Sea Training (FOST) programme designed to hone sailors’ skills. This took place between 13 and 17 February and according to the SA Navy, involved things like practicing noise hygiene (so the Amatola is harder to detect by enemies and improves the performance of its own sensors); operating the embarked Super Lynx helicopter, especially in rough seas; and practicing dealing with engine problems.
After FOST training at Naval Base Devonport, Amatola proceeded to Portsmouth for the Mendi commemorations and then on to Kiel in Germany on 24 February, arriving on the 28th for Exercise Good Hope with the German Navy vessels FSG Augsburg (F213), a Bremen-class frigate, and FSG Bonn (A1413), a Berlin-class replenishment ship.
Some 600 German and South African personnel are involved in the exercise, the first to be held outside South Africa. The vessels headed out to sea on 1 March, and will be back in Kiel on the weekend. The following week they will conduct further exercises at sea before a visit to Rostock on 10 March. Good Hope VII will conclude on 13 March.
According to Captain Volker Herbert Blasche, the vessels will take part in firing exercises, combating terrorists on speedboats, and naval flying with the ships’ helicopters.
Shore training drills are due to take place at the German Naval Damage Control Training Centre in Neustadt. This facility is not new to the SAN as the initial frigate crews where trained there prior to sailing the four new Valour Class (Meko A200) frigates to South Africa in the mid-2000s.
“Apart from the cold weather, we had a very warm welcome in Kiel,” said Francois Roux, captain of the SAS Amatola.
Amatola is scheduled to arrive back in Simon’s Town on April 22, after having conducted diplomatic visits to various West Coast African countries.