Written by Kim Helfrich
A successful paradrop, including a rigid inflatable boat (RIB), from a SA Air Force (SAAF) C-130 during a simulated submarine search and rescue has to date been the highlight of Exercise Oxide off the Mozambican coast.
The drop was done after the Oxide task group, including SAS Isandlwana, SAS Isaac Dyobha and the French light surveillance frigate FS Nivose, successfully located the ‚Äústricken‚Äù submarine (SAS Queen Modjadji).
Apart from the 28 Squadron C-130 other SAAF assets used in the search and rescue section of the exercise were a 35 Squadron C-47TP and a 22 Squadron Super Lynx 300.
SA Navy fleet communications officer, Commander Cara Pratten, said from Mozambique the Special Forces Parachute Action Group (SPAG) was ‚Äúnot only a sight, it was a success with all participants learning a lot‚Äù.
Today sees the mixed fleet get to grips with basic and advanced interdiction and boarding operations, an essential element of counter-piracy taskings which is the primary objective of the joint French/Mozambican/South African exercise that finishes on Friday.
Location of ‚Äúcontacts of interest‚Äù is first on the list followed by the challenge after which French commandos and their South African counterparts from the Navy‚Äôs Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) get to grips with board and search operations. All platforms taking part in Exercise Oxide, under the command of task group commander Captain Jabulani Mbotho of the SA Navy, will, at various stages of the exercise, be ‚Äúcontacts of interest‚Äù for the French and South African specialists to board and search.
Before the exercise ends on Friday participants will take part in vertical replenishment with helicopters from both the French and South African platforms utilised to airlift and drop crew. Tactical exercises including multi-ship manoeuvring and gunnery firing practice make up the remainder of the exercise observed by at least nine ‚Äúsea riders‚Äù from the Mozambican and Tanzanian navies aboard participating platforms.
On completion of the exercise SAS Isandlwana will relieve the OPV SAS Isaac Dyobha in the Mozambique Channel on Operation copper anti-piracy duty. She has been there as the major surface deterrent to pirates for the last six weeks before steaming on to Maputo for Exercise Oxide.