SAS Amatola heading home after Exercise Good Hope VII
The South African Navy’s (SAN’s) frigate SAS Amatola is on her way back to South Africa, via West Africa, after wrapping up Exercise Good Hope VII with Germany. According to ship tracking data, the SAS Amatola is in the English Channel heading south. She sailed back to the port of Warnemunde, Germany, on 10 March towards the end of Good Hope VII, accompanied by the German frigate Augsburg and support ship Bonn. Exercise Good Hope normally takes place every second year in South Africa - 2017 is the first time it is being held in Europe. SAS Amatola moored in Kiel on 27 February ahead of the exercise, which kicked off with the Amatola training for damage, flooding and fire control in Neustadt. The ship’s crew also visited the German Marine Unit centre in Eckernforde. On 1 March the German and South African vessels headed to sea for various drills, which included damage prevention, man overboard and at sea manoeuvres, reports Naval Today. One of the skills the exercise focussed on was interoperability under NATO procedures, something increasingly important in African waters given the focus on anti-piracy and maritime security operations in the region. The second week of the exercise focussed on naval aviation – the Amatola has a Super Lynx helicopter embarked while the Germans contributed a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
In addition to the three vessels from South Africa and Germany, Good Hope VII apparently saw brief participation from the German Navy’s new F125 class frigate Baden-Wurttemberg and the corvette Ludwigshafen am Rhein during the first days of the exercise, along with the Algerian Navy’s El Moudamir, reports, Marine Forum. The Meko class frigate El Moudamir (911) was undergoing final sea trials before sailing home to Algeria, where it will join its sister ship Erradii (910), which arrived in Algiers on 19 April 2016. El Moudamir was launched in Kiel in December 2015 by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). The frigate apparently left Kiel on 8 March for the second component of Good Hope and according to vessel tracking data is now sailing in the Baltic Sea off the German coast. While in the German port of Rostock, Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime and TKMS signed a memorandum of understanding aboard the Amatola covering the support and upgrade of the SA Navy’s three Heroine class submarines and four Valour class frigates, all built by TKMS. SAS Amatola is expected back in Simon’s Town on April 22, after having conducted diplomatic visits to four African nations. She is expected to refuel in Rota, Spain, around 20 March before stopping in Tema, Ghana, between 30 March and 3 April; Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, between 6 and 8 April; Luanda, Angola, between 11 and 13 April; and Walvis Bay, Namibia, between 17 and 19 April. Amatola sailed to the United Kingdom for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on 21 February 1917, and laid wreaths and took SS Mendi descendants to the site of the sinking.