Written by Kim Helfrich
Any possible review of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) tri-nation agreement on counter-piracy operations in the Mozambique Channel could be an agenda item for next month’s Standing Maritime Committee meeting.
In the meantime it’s business as usual for SAS Spioenkop, the current SA Navy asset on station in the area, according to Defence and Military Veterans Ministerial spokesman Joy Peter.
She said the agreement, between Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa, remained “effective”.
“As recently as March 21 at a meeting of the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security reform the governments of Mozambique and Tanzania stressed the importance of bringing into force the trilateral agreement on maritime security signed by South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania,” she added.
Peter also said no indication has been received for any request to review the tri-national agreement on counter-piracy operations off the lower east coast of Africa.
South Africa is by far the major contributor to Operation Copper, the code name given to the counter-piracy tasking, providing at least one maritime platform as well as a C-47TP maritime aircraft and rotary-winged aircraft including Super Lynx and Oryx. In addition to ship’s crews the Navy has also deployed elements of its Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) aboard vessels in the Mozambique Channel.
While the bulk of counter-piracy taskings have been given to the Navy’s Valour Class frigates, offshore patrol vessels and the Navy’s single replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg have also spent time on station.
SA Air Force’s assets, with the exception of the Lynx maritime helicopters aboard the frigates, are based at Pemba.
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The Mozambican contribution has been in the form of sea riders deployed on South African Navy vessels in the area of operations. Further assistance from South Africa’s eastern neighbour has been in the form of co-ordination, collaboration and information sharing in executing the mission objective she said.