Piracy has become a global epidemic, with pirates hijacking anything from a small fishing vessel to bulk carriers. It is starting to affect international shipping and countries like the Seychelles are losing massive amounts of income from ships not wanting to travel certain routes anymore.
Currently the SANDF is currently deployed off the coast of Mozambique, near Pemba, in an anti-piracy involvement called Operation Copper. A C47TP operating out of Pemba flies regular patrols to update the Naval Corvettes with any shipping activity they encounter.
In an effort to step up the game Operation Good Hope V’s main task was that of anti-piracy training.
Although the global objective of previous Good Hope exercises between the German and South African forces has always been to conduct joint multinational exercises focused on conventional warfare, this time it was more focused on the asymmetric threat of piracy. This is a world first.
The operation commenced on 29 February and involved the German Navy returning from Operation Atalanta and the South African Forces returning from Operation Copper. The South African Naval Contingent led by Captain Micky Girsa as the commander of the task group consisted of the corvettes SAS Amatola and the SAS Isandlwana, The submarine SAS Queen Modjadji, a Lynx helicopter and a C47TP MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft). The German Naval Contingent commanded by Captain Eike Wetters consisted of the FGS Lübeck, a Type 122 Frigate and two Mk88 Lynx helicopters, one with a dipper for anti-submarine warfare exercises.
The objectives of the operation was to improve co-operation between both nations and to consolidate tactics and procedures in anti-piracy operations. They achieved maritime domain awareness by getting a good picture of activity along the East African coastline.
A huge part of the exercise was learning to validate the anti-piracy operations in terms of legal aspects. How to capture, arrest, detain and prosecute the pirates in a legal manner that does not see them escaping on a formality.
Basic Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises were also carried out as well as cross deck helo ops to make sure that both nations were up to the latest standards and procedures. Other parts of the operation included firefighting, seamanship and gunnery, both by ship and helicopter.
Both nations during the operation compared procedures and the best practices were adopted by both forces. This resulted in two improved services in the war against piracy. Both nations have now developed a combined anti-piracy operational procedure for all scenarios which includes the insertion of boarding teams by boats and by fast roping from a Lynx helicopter.
Not only were the various present teams on board the ships improved but the future trainers of this sort of combat were also trained.
Having said all this Good Hope V did not neglect the aspects of conventional warfare. Typical serials such as Replenishment at Sea, the towing of ship scenarios, anti-submarine exercises, engagement of simulated hostile surface vessels found and identified by maritime patrol aircraft, boat drills, Young Officer of the Watch training in terms of maneuvering ships and communication exercises were conducted. According to Captain Girsa, one of the highlights was the inclusion of a Dipper, a Lynx helicopter equipped with a dipping sonar used for the anti-submarine serials. This proved to be incredibly advantageous and of great value to the combined forces especially to the crew of the submarine who were tasked to evade detection and then to engage the forces as best as possible.