The Valour class frigate SAS Spioenkop is making her way back to South Africa after participating in Exercise Ibsamar V in India, and is due to make a port call in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, today.
She is not a stranger to Asia and conducted a three month, six country visit to the Far East, including China, during 2008.
The South African Navy (SAN) vessel departed Goa on 1 March after taking part in Exercise Ibsamar V and the Indian International Fleet Review from 4 February. South Africa was one of 54 countries that attended the Review in Visakhapatnam, with ‘Navies of the World United through Oceans’ as the theme.
According to the South African Navy, the official programme began on 4 February with a wreath laying ceremony at the War Memorial at Rama Krishna beach, to pay homage to those who died during the 1971 war.
The Naval Review itself took place on 6 February. After a 21-gun salute, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee embarked on the Presidential yacht, accompanied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The highlight of the review was an exhilarating 30-minute operational demonstration of the multidimensional operational tasks undertaken by various arms of the Indian Navy. The riveting demonstration culminated with illumination and fireworks display as well as the official release of a book on ‘Maritime Heritage’ by the Honourable Prime Minister of India,” the SA Navy said.
Two days later the Chief of the South African Navy Vice Admiral M S Hlongwane paid a visit aboard SAS Spioenkop before she departed for Colombo, Sri Lanka. The vessel arrived there several days later on the 12th, and hosted a Sri Lankan Navy delegation, before departing for Goa, India, on 15 February.
Exercise Ibsamar V, between South Africa, India and Brazil, began on 18 February with a harbour phase, which comprised training by Special Forces teams, inter-ships visits, communication equipment installation and security briefs. The SAN said that a pre-sail conference saw the INS Mumbai discussing the planning and conduct of Operation Rahat (2013 North India flood relief) whilst the INS Trishul discussed maritime domain awareness in the Indian Navy. The Brazilian Navy discussed patrol operations and the SAN discussed lessons learnt in anti-piracy operations in the Mozambique Channel.
Next up was the sea phase, which took place between 23 and 26 February. This saw the destroyer INS Mumbai (D62), the stealth frigate INS Trishul (F43), SAS Spioenkop (F147) and the Brazilian Navy patrol vessel BNS Amazonas (P120) participate. The focus was on anti-submarine warfare, surface firing, air defence, visit board search and seizure, flying operations, search and rescue, and tactical procedures, the SAN said. The Indian Navy Shishumar class submarine INS Shalki, Sea Harriers and MiG-29K fighter aircraft, as well as the Lynx helicopter, participated in the trilateral exercise.
The seamanship parties on all the vessels had an opportunity to test their skills during the light line transfer that took place, the SAN said. Two runs approaches were conducted between SAS Spioenkop and INS Trishul as well as INS Mumbai and BNS Amazonas.
Throughout the three-day sea phase, gunners fired at air and sea targets, including towed surface targets. Before sunrise on day two of the sea phase, trainee officers and tactical communications operators practiced Morse code with flashing lights.
Regarding aerial activities, the INS Mumbai’s Alouette III helicopter and SAS Spioenkop’s Lynx conducted cross-deck exercises, vertical replenishments and deck landings.
As Ibsamar had a big anti-submarine warfare component, exercises involved two or more anti-surface warfare units detecting, classifying, tracking and attacking a submarine which in turn measured the ability of the submarine to counter-attack and evade after detection.
The South African Navy said that numerous basic interdiction and boarding exercises were held. South African Special Forces on SAS Spioenkop boarded the INS Mumbai, while the INS Mumbai’s Special Forces boarded Spioenkop.
After three days of exercise at sea all participating units proceeded to the harbour for the Harbour Debrief Phase that took place on 27-29 February. Spioenkop then departed Goa on 1 March and is expected back in South African waters in the next few days.
This was the first time Ibsamar was held in Indian waters as all previous editions were held in South Africa. Ibsamar IV took place off the coast of South Africa in October/November 2014.