VBSS drills a key part of Exercise Good Hope VIII

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One of the highlights of the first week of the Good Hope VIII exercise between the South African and German navies saw visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training onboard a local fishing vessel in Saldanha.

The German participants arrived at Air Force Base Langebaanweg on 18 January aboard a Luftwaffe Airbus A400M transport aircraft (54+13), which carried 27 personnel. The exercise officially got underway on 21 January, and is scheduled to conclude on 6 February.

The first week of the bi-national exercise included an opening ceremony, mission readiness training, marrying-up drills and equipment orientation between the South African National Defence Force and German Navy.

As part of the orientation week, on Friday 26 January, German and South African teams orientated themselves with weapons to be utilised during the exercise. Two details from the SA Navy Maritime Reaction Squadron fired R5 rifles and 9 mm pistols at the SAS Saldanha Firing Range. Their Deutsche Marine counterparts orientated themselves by firing G36 A1 assault rifles and P8C 9 mm pistols.

On Saturday 27 January, boarding teams from both the Maritime Reaction Squadron and the Deutsche Marines took part in Visit, Board, Search and Seizure training onboard a local fishing vessel within the Saldanha port. The vessel was boarded by specially trained teams, who searched for contraband, weapons, or individuals involved in illegal activities, reported Chief Petty Officer Nkululeko Zulu for SA National Defence Force Corporate Communication.

2017 was the last time a Good Hope was staged. It took place in Germany in February/March that year, with the SAN frigate SAS Amatola (F145) being the sole participant from South Africa.

This year’s exercise is more modest due to real-world commitments affecting the ability to send vessels to South Africa.

No German vessels are taking part in Exercise Good Hope VIII and the German contingent is instead engaging with SAN units, including its Maritime Reaction Squadron. The training aims to enhance inter-operability, foster mutual understanding and refine the capabilities of both navies in joint and combined operations.