India, Brazil, SA navies engage in joint exercises

May 6, 2008
Author: Shaun Benton

Cape Town, 5 May - The navies of Brazil, India and South Africa are, for the first time in the history of the trilateral IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) initiative, engaging in joint exercises in the seas off the southern coast of South Africa.

In what Brazilian Naval Captain Onias de Castro Lima at a press conference at Simonstown Naval Base on Monday described as a “historical” and “very special” exercise, the three navies are to be engaging in multi-faceted naval operations.

These include, according to Captain Charl Coetzee of the South African Navy, developing a “common understanding of interoperability” and to foster mutual trust and co-ordination.

Other objectives include an exchange of observers between the three navies, and developing and improving tactics, doctrine and operating procedures for surface unit employment and defence against air units, as well as the evolution of overall seamanship.

The three navies will also be conducting “simulated offensive operations” against “surface and sub-surface threats”, including anti-submarine warfare, according to Captain Coetzee.

The three countries will also, in “a big learning curve for the supporting navies over such long distances”, be providing log support and other operations.

Some members of the armed forces of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community regional bloc will also be joining the three navies in the exercises, said Captain Coetzee.

The overall aim, he said, is to use the navies of the three countries to strengthen multilateral cohesion between South Africa, India and Brazil, under ministerial authority of the trilateral axis.

Ships, said Captain Coetzee, “have always proven to be a very good way of doing that.”

However, certain navies are bringing particular expertise to the maritime exercises. For instance, the Indian navy is bringing its wealth of experience in combating piracy to the joint operations.

According to an Indian naval officer, India will be sharing its expertise in “visit board search-and-seizure” operations, including its experience in dealing with cases of non-compliance on the part of ocean users.

After extensive planning, the three navies will be dividing their time between Simonstown Naval Base and Cape Town's Waterfront - where the ships will be open to tourists and visitors - as well as spending time at sea between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point in Africa.

The ships involved in the exercises - known as IBSAMAR - with Brazilian Naval Ships BNS Independencia and BNS Defensora participating along with Indian Naval Ships INS Mumbai and INS Karmukh.

South Africa's ships include SAS Drakensberg, SAS Umkomaas, SAS Galeshewe, SAS Isaac Dyobha as well as two of the four new frigates, the South African Navy Meko-class A200 Frigate Sub-Guided (FSG) vessels, the SAS Isandlwana and SAS Amatola.

Indian Captain Ajit Kumar said it was “a proud moment” for the Indian Navy to be participating in the inaugural naval exercises, adding that while India's ships had stopped in Durban for a few days, the experience of the oceans off Simonstown will be “another feather in our cap.” - BuaNews



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