The eighth edition of Exercise Good Hope, between the South African and German Navies, has commenced off South Africa’s West Coast, although on a much smaller scale than in the past.

The German participants arrived at Air Force Base Langebaanweg on 18 January aboard a Luftwaffe Airbus A400M transport aircraft (54+13), which carried 27 personnel. The Deutsche Marines were welcomed by Acting Exercise Director Captain (SA Navy) S W Majozi and Combined Joint Task Force Commander Captain (SA Navy) C J Mc Kenzie.

Before the exercise started in earnest, a delegation of senior officers from Germany and South Africa paid a courtesy call on the Executive Mayor’s Office in Vredenburg on 19 January.

In addition to being a West Coast transportation and commercial hub, Vredenburg is home to the port of Saldanha and a SA Navy (SAN) training facility.

In the delegation that called on Mayor André Truter were Majozi, Mc Kenzie, Defence Foreign Relations Lieutenant Colonel Ramofe, Legal Officer Commander D Banda and a German Navy (Deutsche Marine) contingent comprising of Defence Attaché Captain T Burchert, German Marine Commander, Commander T Schild, along with Major General SW Dyantyi of the SA Police Service (SAPS).

Deutsche Marine officers doing their bit for civil/military co-operation with Vredenburg Mayor, André Truter.
The German defence attaché told Truter it was “pleasing” to get the exercise underway in the wake of disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. All involved, he said, are eager and excited to engage with their South African counterparts.

2017 was the last time a Good Hope was staged. It took place in Germany in February/March that year, with the SAN frigate SAS Amatola (F145) being the sole participant from South Africa.

This year’s exercise is more modest due to real-world commitments affecting the ability to send vessels to South Africa, according to Dean Wingrin, defenceWeb Cape Town correspondent.

No German vessels are taking part in Exercise Good Hope VIII and the German contingent will instead engage with SAN units, including its Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS). Scheduled are searches, vessel boarding and seizure operations and fast roping exercises. The simulations aim to enhance inter-operability, foster mutual understanding and refine the capabilities of both navies in joint and combined operations.

Good Hope VIII officially got underway yesterday (Sunday, 21 January). The first week entails mission readiness training and marrying-up drills between the participants. Week two has a scenario-based free-play exercise on the agenda, providing participants with an opportunity to apply acquired skills and adapt to dynamic and unpredictable situations, the SA Navy said. Before the exercise ends on 6 February, a VIP Demonstration day will be held on 2 February.

“Exercise Good Hope is a bi-national maritime exercise between the South African National Defence Force and the German Navy. This combined joint exercise is designed to demonstrate friendship and military cooperation between the two countries in order to achieve military strategic objectives,” SA National Defence Force Joint Operations said.

“The strategic objectives of Exercise Good Hope VIII is to portray South Africa and Germany’s positive commitment to the regional and global maritime security strategies. Among others, the operational objectives of the exercise are to: establish and manage forward operating bases; conduct visit, board, search and seizure; execute fast roping, rappelling and hot extraction; carry out search and rescue; conduct maritime air defence; and implement command and control,” Joint Operations concluded.

“The exercise will be a tactical exercise consisting of mainly maritime assets but will be supported by land, air and military health services components,” Theunissen previously explained.

Captain (Navy) Thomas Burchert, the German Defence Attaché to South Africa, emphasised the significance of continuing the partnership, expressing optimism that the exercise’s scale might evolve in the coming years.

“We want to keep the momentum and the partnership,” he told defenceWeb. “That’s why we’re doing it is on a small scale basis. In two years, it might look completely different again.”

The German contingent will engage with various South African units, including the Maritime Reaction Squadron of the South African Navy. The exercise will involve diverse activities such as area searches, vessel boarding and seizure operations and fast roping exercises. These simulations aim to enhance interoperability, foster mutual understanding and refine the capabilities of both naval forces in joint and combined operations.

The opening ceremony on 21 January will mark the commencement of Exercise Good Hope VIII, followed by a week-long serialized programme. The subsequent week will witness a scenario-based free-play exercise, providing participants with an opportunity to apply their acquired skills and adapt to dynamic and unpredictable situations.

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