With just over two weeks logged on her latest anti-piracy patrol deployment in the Mozambique Channel SAS Amatola has recorded her first contact.
A fishing vessel anchored on the horizon 36 nautical miles off the coast of Quellani, north-east of Beira, attracted the attention of the duty watch because of its distance from the shore.
A decision was made to close and interrogate the vessel. Approaching the anchored fishing vessel the Valour class frigate attempted to make radio contact using English and Portuguese on Channel 21 and other frequently used commercial frequencies. With no response a decision was made to board.
A boarding team consisting of five Maritime Reaction Squadron members, one SANDF Special Forces operator and two Mozambican Defence Force soldiers boarded a RIB and made toward the suspect vessel. While in transit the boarding team was covered by Amatola’s 20mm gun crews.
Safely aboard, the team went about their business of checking the number of crew – 22 – and verifying documentation. This showed the vessel was legally allowed to fish in the area.
The boarding tasking served to create awareness among local fishermen of the potential danger posed by pirates.
“It was also an opportunity to put training to the test as well as enhance Mozambican/South African inter-operability,” a Navy spokesman said.
The anti-piracy patrols in the Mozambique Channel are an integral part of Operation Copper, an SADC initiative to prevent pirates coming down the east coast of Africa into busy South African waters.
In addition to the Navy, the SA Air Force also supports the operation with a maritime patrol aircraft based at Pemba in Mozambique.