SAS AMATOLA participates in Good Hope VII in the Baltic Sea, Germany

Article and photos by Petty Officer Sthembiso Makuleni and Able Seaman Judy Baatjes

The SAS AMATOLA arrived in Kiel, Germany on the 27 February 2017 to conduct Exercise Good Hope VII. Exercise Good Hope VII is unique in a sense that it is the first time that the exercise is being conducted in the Baltic Sea. The aim of the exercise was to strengthen operational readiness through tactical Task Group exercises in partnership with the South African Navy and German Navy through training support and joined maritime exercises both ashore and at sea. The two weeks long exercise consisted of the South African Ship AMATOLA, German Ship FGS BONN, German Ship FGS AUGSBURG with additional/supporting vessels German Ships FGS LÜBECK, FGS LUNDWIGHAFENIR and Algerian Ship MRA EL MOUDAMIR.

Crew members of AUGSBURG getting a guided tour by CPO Marco September

The ships set sail on Monday the 06 February 2017 at 0830A. The week was jam packet with serials starting with cross pollination. Cross Pollination is an exchange of ship’s crew members for the purpose of foreign ships acquaintance and the exchange of skills.
One of the cross pollination team members LS Revall Spandiel said as soon as she walked into the hanger of the German Ship FGS AUGSBURG, she was amazed by the sight by the gym. She further mentioned that she was amazed by the way the ship looked, it looked like a strike craft. The ship looked different than our ship. She was impressed by the service and interaction with crew of the FSG AUGSBURG. The South African Navy cross pollination team had an opportunity to meet the Officer Commanding (CO) of FGS AUGSBURG. LS Spandiel said the CO of AUGSBURG is a very amazing person, the crew seems like a happy family as everybody respects everyone.

A number of internal warfare took place during the week such as Fire Fighting exercises, Emergency Stretcher exercises as well as ensuring the smooth running of the Mechanical Control Room (MCR) while the ship is under way and how the MCR reacts during exercises.

Stretcher party evacuating pilot from "crash" on deck

Mechanical Control Room members making sure everything is in working order during Combat State 1

The week continued to be filled with different external warfare evolutions, with the weather being below 5 degree Celsius, the tactical communications ratings bared the cold and did some tactical communications (flashing Lights and flags) with German Ship BONN.

A Replenishment At Sea exercise took place on the 08 March 2017. For the South African Navy this evolution was something that normally does not happen that often, sailors are trained to Replenish At Sea (RAS) but rarely get the opportunity to experience it in real time amongst South African Navy ships but this time they got the opportunity to RAS with foreign navy in international waters. Replenishment at sea for the South African Navy only took place more than 10 years ago due to lack of resources.


Tactical Communications during flashing exercise with FGS BONN

The male coupling from FGS BONN, approaching female coupling on SAS AMATOLA during RAS


Gunner, LS Bruce Leeuwschut shooting the line to FGS BONN to start RAS

Member of the Maritime Reaction Squadron disembarking the SAS AMATOLA

Exercises are based on real life situations that may occur at sea therefore exercises are simulated exactly according to what might happen during a real life situation. These exercises prepare sailors for the worst.

Imagine driving on a deserted road and you get a mechanical breakdown, you are stranded and the only option you have is to wait for someone to pass you and tow you to the nearest garage. Now the same can happen to a ship at sea, to counter this SAS AMATOLA and FGS AUGSBURG conducted a ships towing exercise. The Seamanship party on board SAS AMATOLA laid out ropes on the flight deck to prepare for the actual towing exercise. The towing evolution was performed in a seamanship like manner.

“It takes team work to make the evolution a success in preparing to tow another ship/vessel. Before the ship can be towed, the ships need to keep in contact to prepare for whatever side, towing will take place. The team will normally be briefed by Officer Commanding or Executive Officer. The difficult part of towing is getting the rope on board other ship, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) standards must be adhered to, we must have the same type of rope as other ships.” Says Buffer on board SAS AMATOLA, WO2 Tyron Jansen.

Members of Denel and ThyssenKrupp signing the Memorandum of Understanding

Officer Commanding Captain F. Roux and Commander Task Group, Captain V. Blasche with the mayor of Rostock

FGS BONN conducted replenishment at sea with SAS AMATOLA on port side and FGS AUGSBURG on starboard side. A total of approximately 20 tons was transferred from FGS BONN to SAS AMATOLA.

The Maritime Reaction Squadron was presented with the opportunity to board FGS BONN which is a type 702 berlin class replenishment ship with a length of 173.7 metres and a height 17.5 metres as part of their boarding exercises training for Exercise Good Hope. Before the group departed the SAS AMATOLA, a briefing was given by Sub Lieutenant Siphokazi Mavuma on the purpose of boarding and the type of force that could be expected.

Maritime Reaction Squadron members, Leading Seaman Andres Koetjie said that it was a great experience for him, the ships layout was unknown to him, and he wishes that the rest of the Maritime Reaction Squadron team at home get the opportunity to experience what he has experienced.

The SAS MATOLA arrived in Rostock, Germany on the 10 March 2017 after conducting the jam packed Exercise Good Hope VII. The sailors finally got a chance to rest and recuperate after two weeks of training and exercises. On arrival Officer Commanding SAS AMATOLA Captain François Roux paid the Mayor of Rostock and Director Operational/ Deputy Fleet Commander German Navy Headquarters Rear Admiral Jean Martens.

There was much interest in the presence of SAS AMATOLA in Germany after the completion of Exercise Good Hope VII to an extent that media houses came for a media briefing on board SAS AMATOLA on the 10 March 2017. Later the participating forces took time to recap on the exercise by conducting a debriefing.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on 11 March 2017 by representatives of Denel and ThyssenKrupp causing Project BIRO into effect. Project BIRO is a project that will manufacture ships for the South African Navy specifically inshore patrol vessels in Naval Base Simons Town East Dockyard.

To further foster relations a cocktail function was hosted on board SAS AMATOLA and an end of exercise function was held at Rostock, Germany.

Director Operational/ Deputy Fleet Commander German Navy Headquarters Rear Admiral Jean Martens said Exercise Good Hope is a long standing tradition and the arrival of the South African Navy ship in Germany marks the first time of hosting Exercise Good Hope in Germany in the Baltic Sea even though Good Hope is far away.

SAS AMATOLA will be heading north thereafter proceeding south, to first replenish in Rota, Spain and continue its voyage to West Africa for diplomatic visits.