OPERATING THE NEW PATROL CORVETTES OF THE SA NAVY

A Navy is the only force structure (between the Army, Air Force and Military Medical Health Services) that operates in all spheres of a battle space, meaning

  • rendering support to ground forces by delivering Naval Gun Support (NGS);
  • anti air warfare (AAW) which include aircraft and missiles;
  • anti surface warfare (AsuW); and
  • anti submarine warfare (ASW).

A ship that is designed to do all of the above and is therefore an integrated and complex system. Apart from being able to fight, the warship and its crew must survive at sea. The main requirements thus include the availability of necessary logistics, such as food, water, fuel, spares and medical assistance. However, a warship's main concern always, during battle or normal sailing, is manoeuvrability. The warship must therefore have

  • power (machinery to propel the ship);
  • steerage (ability to make and control changes in course); and
  • floatability (ability to stay afloat).

It is a top priority of a warship's captain to protect the ship against fire and flooding. Ships' crews are therefore trained to manage such contingencies. South Africa acquired the patrol corvettes from Germany and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two navies to train some of the crewmembers.

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The German medical ordinance, Oberbootsmann (Chief Petty Officer) Schüler, preparing a 'burned victim' scenario on Lieutenant Commander Makonto.
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Hauptbootsman (Senior Chief Petty Officer) Thomas Nielsen assisting with the navigation.

Damage control (DC) training was done at the German Naval Damage Control Training Center in Neustadt, whilst navigation training took place at the Navigational Training Simulator in Flensbrug. The land based training consisted of

  • fire fighting;
  • flooding control;
  • nuclear, biological and chemical defence (NBCD);
  • rescue and sea survival;
  • task orders; and
  • command, control and communication (C³).

An Operational Sea Training Phase called SAGA (German acronym for "Schadensabwehrgefechtsdienstausbilding") consisting of

  • fire fighting and shoring;
  • C³;
  • navigation; and
  • medical sea survival.

The courses presented to the SA Navy included

  • a basic course for 20 members of each of the four ships in fire fighting, leak stopping and shoring and survival;
  • command team training for the four patrol corvettes, which included the DC organisation, fighting fires during the maiden voyage and in harbour, as well as navigational and medical lessons; and finally
  • a SAGA evaluation at sea, which all four patrol corvettes had to pass, that lasted between four to eight days.
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Korvettenkapitän (Commander) Thomas Rinke and Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant Commander) Rudi Grimm observing a DC exercise
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The ship's doctor, Lieutenant Colonel Kleinhans, explaining how the 'victim' should be treated.

A team of five members of the German Navy (der Deutchen Marine) on board the SAS Mendi consists of two officers and three non-commissioned officers. They are involved with the training and liaison between our two navies. During DC exercises, they help to set up scenarios and give advice and assistance where required.

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En route