Busy training schedule for Spioenkop en route to India
Captain Mike Boucher has made full use of his extended time at sea aboard the SAS Spioenkop to keep the ship’s company working hard at practicing all aspects of seamanship en route to India. One of the drills aboard the vessel saw a surface rapid engagement firing practice taking place with a Dancan, launched from the flight deck as a target. The serial allowed the ship’s warfare team to sharpen their surface engagement voice procedures and operations room relations, the SA Navy said. The exercise started with the target classified as a “simulated hostile surface craft”. This classification saw the surface threat warning escalated to red by the principal warfare officer. The order was given by the Commanding Officer to engage the hostile target using the Spioenkop’s primary ballistic weapon, the 76 mm medium gun. A lock-on was achieved with the optical radar tracker. Thirty high explosive direct action rounds were fired at the target, which was instantly destroyed by the initial burst. The gunnery exercise continued after destruction of the target to provide exposure to junior operators on other weapons designated for the exercise. This included the 35 mm dual purpose gun and the 12.7 mm remotely operated machinegun.
The Super Lynx embarked on Spioenkop on 29 January conducted a surface picture compilation (SURPIC) and successfully located BNS Amazonas, a Brazilian Navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) also en route to India for the International Fleet Review and Exercise Ibsamar V. Both vessels remained at a safe distance while maintaining steady speed. At 06h00 the next day the Lynx was launched and Amazonas was detected and tracked before the captain decided on simulated missile attacks on the “target”. At 08h00 the ships rendezvoused and commence with the day’s programme. Evolutions such as Replenishment at Sea (RAS) - a light line transfer at about 40 m off the starboard beam and the Lynx conducting controlled landings on board the Brazilian vessel, a number of vertical replenishments on both ships and M3M gun firing from the Lynx completed the day’s activities. Prior to this two basic interdiction boarding exercises were done with South African Special Forces and the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) boarding the Amazonas. The second saw Brazilian Special Forces repaying “the favour” by boarding the South African vessel, simulating an anti-piracy search and seizure mission. Spioenkop arrived in Visakhapatnam, India, on 5 February to fly the South African flag during the International Fleet Review after which she will be the lone South African representative in Exercise Ibsamar V. Exercise Ibsamar is a joint and multinational maritime exercise held between the Indian Navy, Brazilian Navy and South African Navy. The exercise has been in existence since 2008.