The Valour Class frigate, SAS Spioenkop (F147), has been confirmed as the SA Navy’s representative for next February’s International Fleet Review in India.
She will be under the command of Captain Mike Boucher who will also guide Spioenkop during Ibsamar, the tri-nation exercise that follows the Review at Visakhapatnam in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Spioenkop was the third of the four Valour Class frigates acquired as part of the 1999 Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP). She was launched in August 2003 and commissioned in March the following year.
She is not a stranger to Asia and conducted a three month, six country visit to the Far East, including China, during 2008.
Indications at this stage are she will depart Naval Base Simon’s Town around mid-January for the 4,900 nm voyage to India, transiting via Mauritius.
More than 100 warships and submarines from 60 countries are expected to take part in the Review which will be held at the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Command.
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 the 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”.
India and South Africa have a close naval relationship. Both services are members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) as well as being partners, with Brazil, in the IBSAMAR series of biennial naval exercise held off the South African coast.