German, South African Navy conclude drills in Baltic Sea

South African Navy frigate SAS Amatola and two German Navy ships returned to the port of Warnemünde on March 10, thereby concluding the bilateral exercise Good Hope.

The 2017 edition of Good Hope started on February 24 and marked the first time the drill took place in the Baltic Sea.

This was also the first time that guests from South Africa visited the German Marine Unit (Seebataillon) center in Eckernförde and the damage control training facility in Neustadt, Holstein.

SAS Amatola sailors trained together with their counterparts from the German Navy frigate Augsburg and the combat support ship Bonn. The exercise which saw the participation of some 500 personnel from both nations was additionally supported by the German Air Force.

Before kicking off the sea phase of the drill, sailors from Amatola traveled to the damage control training facility in Neustadt where they practiced extinguishing fires and battling heavy flooding.

The ships took to sea on March 1 for the at-sea portion of the drill to test the skills acquired in Neustadt and to conduct “Weekly War” drills.

The second week of the drills was focused on the aviation units of both nations.

Prior to visiting Germany, SAS Amatola commemorated the centenary of the sinking of the South African troop ship Mendi off the Isle of Wight which coincides with the nation’s Armed Forces Day.

The Mendi was an ageing steamer, pressed into military service in 1916 as a troopship. In January 1917 she left Cape Town with 823 men of the 5th Battalion South African Native Labour Corps aboard.

After a month-long journey, the ship called in at Plymouth before making for Le Havre in France to offload her passengers. Instead, before dawn on February 21, she was struck by food transporter SS Darro, which drove a 20ft deep gash in the Mendi’s bow causing the ship to sink.