Friday, September 28, 2007

Forrest Sherman Exercises With South African Navy

By Gillian Brigham, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe Public Affairs
The guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98)got underway with South African navy frigate SAS Amatola (F 145) for coordinated at sea operations Sept. 26, 2007.

Forrest Sherman and Amatola sailed from Durban, South Africa where Forrest Sherman was the first U.S. Navy warship to visit in more than seven years.

While the ships are transiting from Durban to Cape Town, the destroyer and the frigate will collaborate with South African submarine SAS Manthatisi (S 101), a South African C-47 aircraft and a U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft to conduct maritime security and safety drills. The two ships are also participating in a crew swap, with South African naval personnel sailing with Forrest Sherman and members of Forrest Sherman’s crew embarked aboard Amatola.

South African naval officer Cmdr. W. Combrink, is hoping to take the lessons he learns from the training and apply them to South Africa’s newly established Maritime Reaction Squadron, where he is assigned. The two year old squadron performs a variety of operations including force protection, littoral operations and diving and maritime interdiction operations.

“We were just established in 2005, so it’s nice to be here and learn new techniques and best practices and put them to use for our Sailors,” said Combrink. “It’s awesome.”

While onboard, Combrink and his fellow South Africans will participate in visit, board, search and seizure scenarios, accompanying U.S. Navy Sailors aboard Amatola as members of Forrest Sherman’s crew demonstrate how to properly board and search merchant vessels suspected of illegal activity.

“With so many unknown actors like pirates, smugglers and unlawful fishermen operating illegally in international and territorial waters, there has never been a better time for the navies of the world to work together in the interest of establishing safe, secure and prosperous oceans,” said Capt. Nicholas H. Holman, commander, Southeast Africa Task Group (CTG) 60.5.

The task group is responsible for building regional maritime partnerships in Southeast Africa. “The opportunity for the U.S. and South African navies to train alongside and learn from each other is absolutely invaluable, fosters camaraderie and is a lot of fun,” noted Holman.

Forrest Sherman left her homeport in Norfolk July 9, and operated in the Black Sea before sailing to Southeast Africa in September. While assigned to CTG 60.5, the ship will continue to operate in Southeast Africa, working to strengthen regional maritime partnerships to promote long-term stability and economic development in the region.