Exercise Oxide the biennial maritime exercise between South Africa and France began on Thursday 17 November.
French naval patrol ship Le Malin (P701) arrived in Naval Base Simon’s Town from it’s homeport in Reunion to participate.
According to DefenceWeb’s Dean Wingrin, Exercise Oxide aims to enhance co-operation and operational interoperability between the two forces which sharess maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ) border.
This year’s Exercise Oxide is taking place around the False Bay area and the West Coast of the Western Cape, will end on 28 November.
The exercise will comprise of various maritime exercises, the main objective being search and rescue. Other objectives include surveillance, disaster relief, hostage negotiations and releases.
Joint Task Force Commander, Captain (SAN) NK Goboza, noted that the objective for this year is to conduct joint Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) exercises “which is a current challenge to the maritime environment whereby we may be tasked to go and rescue a vessel that has hostages onboard.”
He explained that “continuously exercising together would make sure that were an incident to happen, both navies were “already in sync in terms of tactics, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and communications, we know who to call and what to do.”
The French Defence Attaché, Captain (Navy) AL De Lapeyriere, confirmed that this exercise afforded both nations the ability to test its interoperability as both nations face the same maritime issues.
“South Africa is like France, a nation of the Indian Ocean. (South Africa) is the most important partner that we have in the southern Indian Ocean,” De Lapeyriere explained. “We share with South Africa a common area of interest, but also one geographical area of interest, which is the southern Indian Ocean close to the EEZ of the French island Crozet and the South African islands of Prince Edward and Marion.”
De Lapeyriere continued: “We also share the fact that we are the only nations in the area to have a strong Navy with frigates with high level capabilities. Seen from France, South Africa is a very important partner (with whom) we want to improve our relations.”