media statement 2008

STATEMENT BY DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE HEADQUARTERS

STATEMENT BY SA NATIONAL DEFENCE FORCE (SANDF) HEADQUARTERS PRETORIA: STATEMENT BY SA NAVY COMMISSIONS NEW SPECIALIST MILITARY UNIT

Date: Monday, 08 December 2008

The SA Navyís Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) will be commissioned on 09 Dec 08 at a special parade hosted by the Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu. This specialist Unitís main aims will be to deploy in various peace keeping roles within the African continent, assist in boarding operations at sea and to assist in humanitarian operations and disaster relief.

The formation of this Unit dates back to 2005 where Vice Admiral Mudimu ordered the formation of a Navy Unit that could fulfil a specific mandate within the SANDF. At this time many SA Navy members were involved in peace keeping operations on the African continent, including VIP Protection, observer missions and using boats to conduct patrols in the Great Lakes region. However it was decided to develop a specialist Unit to oversee all these different roles, and that this Unit must be from the SA Navy due to its expertise in riverine and littoral (boundary area between ocean and land) operations.

Currently the MRS is divided into various sections, namely an operational boat element, operational diving team and a rapid force element. These sections will work together to provide a force that can be rapidly deployed into any situation as required by the SA government. Some of the operations that this unit will become involved in includes peace keeping operations, humanitarian assistance (e.g. in areas ravaged by floods) and boarding operations at sea.

One of the capabilities that the MRS will give the SAN and the country at large will be the ability to conduct boarding operations at sea, amongst others. As such the MRS members have benchmarked best practises from a number of foreign Defence Forces, such as those of the US, UK and France. They are trained to use small boats and helicopters whilst conducting these boarding operations. They will also be able to launch assaults from sea using small boats and helicopters and to establish a beach-head on a target area.

One of the SA Navy Projects that will ensure that the MRS is equipped to fulfil all their obligations is Project XENA. This project is divided into various sub-projects, of which one is the acquisition of new boats. The new Project XENA boat will also be unveiled to the public for the first time on Tuesday.

/ends

Notes to editors:

1. Interested members of the media must be at Cole Point Gate no later than 0845 on Tuesday 09 Dec 08. From there bus will transport the media to the Maritime Reaction Squadron.

2. The official commissioning parade will commence at 10:00, after which some refreshments can be enjoyed by all.

3. A bus will depart the MRS at 12:00 and transport the media to SAS DRAKENSBERG, which will be berthed alongside in the harbour. The media and VIP guests will then be taken to the bridge of SAS DRAKENSBERG.

4. At 12:30 there will be a capability demonstration of the MRS where they will simulate a boarding operation on to a large ship. This will be done by teams deployed in small boats climbing over the side of the ship and by members fast-roping out of a helicopter onto the forward flight deck.

5. After the demonstration members of the media will have an opportunity to interact informally with senior officers, including the Officer Commanding MRS, Captain Petersen, and the Project Officer of Project Xena, Captain Nick Marais. One-on-one interviews will also be allowed.

ISSUED BY: Public Relations Department
Naval Base Simonís Town
ENQUIRIES Lieutenant Commander Greyling van den Berg
Media Liaison Officer
Tel: (021) 787 4735
Fax: (021) 787 4710
Cell: 082 807 8057
Email: navpro@telkomsa.net