SA sub causes red faces in Nato exercise

Sep 06, 2007
Author: P&S

Exercise Amazolo, the first multi-navy exercise to involve ships of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the South African Navy (SAN) got underway on Monday in the waters off Cape Point and will continue for most of this week.

A total of ten ships are taking part, six from NATO and four from South Africa. The NATO vessels are USS Normandy, FGS Spessart, HNLMS Evertsen, HSCN Toronto, HDMS Olfert Fischer and FRP Alvares Cabral. Details available in our Naval Review section

These ships form what is known as SNMG1 or Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 which is usually based in the Mediterranean but is currently engaged in a 12,500 mile circumnavigation of Africa.

The participating SA Navy ships are the frigates SAS Amatola and SAS Isandlwana, the strike craft SAS Galeshewe and the submarine SAS Manthatisi. Earlier the NATO ships spent a week in Cape Town’s V&A harbour undergoing some welcome R&R and re-equipping for the second half of the journey round Africa through the Indian Ocean.

Apart from a photo exercise for the benefit of media on board the vessels, including a classical ‘starburst’ normally associated with an aerial display plus a more typical line astern formation the ships later got down to the serious business of exercising together – the first time that the SAN has been able to sail and perform with ships from NATO. These exercises continued into Monday night involving attempting to protect a surface ‘target’ while detecting and attacking submerged South African submarine – something in which the surface ships came off second best, according to navy reports.

According to these reports the submarine managed to penetrate an anti-submarine screen of seven ships, including the two South African Valour class frigates SAS Amatola and SAS Isandlwana and the US Navy guided missile cruise USS Normandy. After having ‘sunk’ the target being protected by the surface screen, the submarine turned on the surface warships and ‘sank’ each of them as well.

“The significance of this for the South African National Defence Force and the SAN in particular is profound. The force-multiplying effect of a submarine was clearly demonstrated during this exercise. This proves that the area off Cape Point is an ideal submarine hunting area – and our submarine crews are good hunters indeed!” says the navy on its website.

One is reminded of the repeated successes of the former submarine fleet of the SAN consisting of three Daphne class boats that also enjoyed a number of similar successes in exercises involving international and South African naval surface ships.

The alternating layers of warm and cold currents of the mingling oceans off the southern Cape coast make for good submarine warfare, it seems.

During the second day of the exercise a number of other training serials took place including gunnery and other fleet exercises. The exercises are continuing.



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