The German Navy could not have chosen a more appropriate frigate to accompany their Task Group which arrived in Simon’s Town on Monday to participate in Exercise Good Hope VI.
Accompanying Training Task Group TG 501.01 is the frigate Brandenburg, a name broadly similar to the Afrikaans words “brandende berg,” meaning “burning mountain” as the mountains around the southern Cape Peninsula were engulfed in smoke and flame from one of the largest mountain fires in decades.
Apart from the flagship Hessen which fired a 21-gun salute as it approached Naval Base Simon’s Town, the Task Group also comprises the frigates Karlsruhe and Brandenburg. Unfortunately, none of the frigates have any helicopters embarked as the German Navy Sea Lynx maritime helicopters were grounded last September when cracks were discovered in the tail of several of the helicopters. The first aircraft to be cleared for flight have been allocated to the Bundeswehr’s navy participating in the EU’s Operation Atalanta anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa.
The Combat Support Ship Berlin will only be joining the Task Group at a later stage.
One of the main objectives of the Task Group is to train officer cadets of Crew VII/2014. Having already completed a five week workup, the German Task Group, in the words of its Commander, Captain Andreas Seidel, “arrived in order to continue the trusted South African/German cooperation at sea.”
“In the forthcoming weeks, challenging exercises at sea and common events ashore will extend our naval capabilities and further deepen the excellent relationship between our navies,” Seidel continued. “Today’s German Navy is used to operating in a multinational environment. However, our obligation with the South African Navy is exceptionally close and is a unique experience.”
This perspective is reflected in this year’s motto: “Brothers in maritime training,” and is echoed by Captain Sikumbuzo Msikinya, the Commander of the SA Navy Task Group.
“We are looking forward to the exercises with our German counterparts,” Msikinya says. “The security of the maritime environment cannot be achieved by only one nation. It needs combined and joint effort to actually ensure that we successfully secure our maritime environment.”
Besides the naval vessels, the Germans have also arranged for two civilian Learjets to fly from Germany to AFB Overberg, situated next to the Overberg Test Range in the Southern Cape, to act as aerial targets.
The SA Navy participants include the Valour Class frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147), the Heroine Class submarine SAS Manthatisi (S101) and the River Class coastal minehunter SAS Umzimkulu (M1142).
The SA Air Force’s (SAAF) contribution comes in the form of a Super Lynx embarked aboard the frigate, a pair of Oryx medium transport helicopters and a C-47TP maritime patrol aircraft.
The first phase of the Exercise commences on 3 March and will involve harbour training in order for each force to get familiar with each other and to cover safety and other aspects.
The first phase at sea takes place from 9 March. Thereafter, from 12 to 15 March, various vessels of the Task Group will make port visits at the V&A Waterfront, during which the ships will be open to the public.
All the ships will also participate at the Navy Festival in Simon’s Town, from 20 to 22 March.
The most exciting tactical phase as well as missile firings will be held from 23 to 26 March. It is during this phase that the Germans will not only fire their surface-to-air missile systems, but also take the opportunity to shoot at surface targets.
The main weapon systems that will be fired will be the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow ship-borne short-range anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapon system and the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) infrared homing surface-to-air missile.
The main 76 mm gun and smaller calibre weapons will also be used against air and surface targets.
Not to be outdone, the SAS Spioenkop will fire two Umkhonto vertically-launched, high-velocity, infrared homing surface-to-air missiles (SAM) manufactured by Denel Dynamics. The South African frigate will also make use of her main 76 mm gun and smaller weapons.
The German Navy is looking forward to starting their largest international exercise outside of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Seidel told defenceWeb that Exercise Good Hope “is the major exercise we do during our trip around Africa. My main task is to build up an operational reserve and this is the cornerstone of getting my Task Group ready, so it is a very important exercise for us.”
Although the SA Navy participation in Exercises Atlasur (between the navies of South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) and Ibsamar (between South Africa, Brazil and India) are larger and more broad-based, Msikinya explained that Exercise Good Hope is far more tactical and technical.
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