South African Navy OPVs conduct counter-piracy operations in Mozambique Channel

The SAN Warrior-class OPV is the refurbished Minister-class, originally built during the 1970s by Sandock Austral, Durban under licence from Israel.

SAS Isaac Dyobha takes over from SAS Galeshewe patrolling Mozambique Channel

Photo: Martin Venter, Navy News

The refurbished offshore patrol vessel SAS Isaac Dyobha has taken over from the SAS Galeshewe in patrolling the Mozambique Channel for pirates and other maritime hazards.

Galeshewe is on its way to Cape Town after a four month patrol, and will be used by the South African Navy (SAN) for training duties.

Galeshewe was the first offshore patrol vessel (OPV) to be assigned duties for Operation Copper, the three nation anti-piracy effort off the lower continental east coast. Her deployment in the Mozambique Channel means three different classes of South African warship – the supply ship SAS Drakensberg and at least two of the Valour Class frigates have to date supplied the maritime ears, eyes and reaction forces to stop pirates venturing into Southern African Development Community (SADC) waters.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula indicated R585 million of the current defence budget has been allocated to Operation Copper. South Africa has partnered with Mozambique and Tanzania in this ongoing anti-piracy operation.

Three Warrior-class strike craft (of nine originally received in the 1970s and 80s) were recently converted into offshore patrol vessels by Southern African Shipyards (SAS). Isaac Dyobha completed sea acceptance trials at the end of February, with Galeshewe following shortly afterwards. SAS Makhanda is still awaiting sea trials, as spare parts are required before the vessel can head out to sea, according to Southern African Shipyards.

A fourth strike craft, SAS Adam Kok, is currently at Salisbury Island, Durban, awaiting refit. Tenders have gone out, but not been awarded yet.

An OPV will be permanently operated from Naval Station Durban – they are currently operating from there on a detached basis from Simon’s Town, rotating with one another.

HMAS Newcastle makes port visit in Tanzania

HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) is an Adelaide class guided-missile frigate. She was built by AMECON (now Tenix) at Williamstown Dockyard and commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 11th December 1993. Design for the Adelaide class frigates was based on the US Navy Oliver Hazard Perry class.

Newcastle stops in Dar es Salaam

Warrant Officer Phil Smit (Ships Warrant Officer) pays his respects at the World War I and II memorial at Dar es Salaam, Upanga Road, Cemetery.

HMAS Newcastle visited the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam from 16-20 June 2013 after a busy patrol period in the Somali Basin.

The port was Newcastle’s second since arriving in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) on 27 May and marks the first visit to the city by a Royal Australian Navy warship since 1985.

The visit strengthened ties between the two nations with formal engagements, while the four-day visit allowed the crew some much earned rest and relaxation.

A highlight of the trip was the opportunity for members of ship’s company to experience the local culture, bartering for souvenirs at the local markets and taking safari tours of the national parks which allowed members to get up close with animals such as lions, zebras and elephants.

POML-C Jeremy Bowman was one of more than half of ship’s company who took full advantage of the rare opportunity.

“The safari allowed us to experience some local animals and terrain. The highlight of my tour was when a family of eight elephants almost attacked the bus,” he said.

“To say I have experienced an African safari is a once in a lifetime event and it will not easily be forgotten.”

ABEW Georgina Herdmun was also on the tour and took the opportunity to photograph the unique sights.

“Getting to see the animals in their natural habitat was well worth the long drive in the bus. It was a great day out and I had a lot of fun,” she said.

Some members of ship’s company, including LSML-SC Sarah Hickling also attended a World Cup football qualifying match between Tanzania and Ivory Coast.

“Having this rare opportunity is without a doubt my highlight of the deployment to date,” she said.

“Being surrounded by 80,000 passionate Tanzanians cheering on their National team against an opposition that includes world class players was an exhilarating experience I will never forget.”

“To see Tanzania win would have been a fairytale ending pushing them through to qualify, unfortunately the more experienced Ivory Coast outplayed them to win 4-2.”

Newcastle hosted Tanzanian Defence Force personnel including Chief of Navy Major General Omar on board for a luncheon catered for by the ships cooks and stewards during the port visit. A contingent of Tanzanian sailors was also hosted for tours of Newcastle.

The Ship’s Company also paid respects at the Dar es Salaam Commonwealth War Cemetery to those who fell in the two World Wars and contains the graves of two Australian servicemen who died in the First World War: Stoker William Bryant of HMAS Pioneer and Lighthorse Trooper James Gilbert.

Chaplain Grant Ludlow led a small contingent to remember the fallen in a remembrance ceremony including the Ship’s Warrant Officer, WO Phil Smith, who laid a wreath on behalf of the ship’s company.

“The cemetery sits in amongst the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam, quite innocuously, and the gardens are meticulously maintained,” WO Smith said after the visit.

“The grounds were peaceful and had a calming, almost reflective feel to them – fitting for the last resting place for these Australian Servicemen.”

Having thoroughly enjoyed the visit and recharged the batteries, Newcastle sailed on 20 June to commence her second patrol in support of OP SLIPPER and CTF150.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130582.