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Südafrika in Deutschland, Pressespiegel,...

14. März 2017

Cementing of South African-German Naval Relations - Deployment of the SAS AMATOLA to Germany

Minister Plenipotentiary M. Cassimjee and Capt. N. J. Fillis represented the South African Embassy Berlin at functions on board the SAS AMATOLA upon completion of successfull joint naval excersice.

The South African Navy has deployed the Valour Class frigate SAS AMATOLA to Europe. The SAS AMATOLA has visited the United Kingdom from 08 Feb to 24 Feb 17 to participate in British Operational Sea Training and to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the SS MENDI, a troop ship, which carried a contingent of the South African Native Labour Corps and was rammed by the SS DARRO in the early morning of 21 Feb 1917 en route from Portsmouth, UK to Le Havre, France. The ship sank within minutes, which led to the tragic loss of 628 members of the South African Native Labour Corps.

On completion of the commemoration and the training in England, the SAS AMATOLA proceeded to Kiel, Germany for Exercise GOOD HOPE VII with the German Navy.  This exercise, which traditionally takes place in South African waters every two years, affords the German and the South African navy the opportunity of synergising operations during various scenarios tested at sea.  For the first time, it now took place in the Baltic Sea, which allowed the SAN to train in closed and confined waters. Once again, the exercise was a tremendous success and yet another milestone in the cementing of naval relations with the German Navy.

Visit to Rostock

Following the exercise, the ship paid a historic visit to Rostock, where the OC SA AMATOLA, Capt. Roux as well as the South African Defence Attaché, Capt. Fillis met with the Lord Mayor of Rostock and signed the guest book on 10 Mar 2017. 

Courtesy Call

In the morning of the same day, Minister Plenipotentiary Cassimjee had a courtesy call with Capt. Roux, who shared his experience about the joint exercise with him. He stressed how pleased he was that the two navies had completed such as successful exercise and had operated on such a professional level together. The training has afforded all participants the opportunity to once again show their excellent operational and tactical skills in conjunction with a partner navy; the lessons learned from the exercise will be invaluable to both countries.

Press Conference

In the afternoon of 10 Mar 17, a press conference was arranged on board the ship, during which Capt. V. Blasche, German Navy, Unit Commander, Capt. J.F. Roux, Minister Plenipotentiary M. Cassimjee of the South African Embassy Berlin, and Capt. N. J. Fillis answered the questions of the German reporters.

Capt. Blasche highlighted the excellent relations with the South African Navy and the six GOOD HOPE exercises already conducted in South African waters. He stated that they have found “wonderful training comrades with the South African Navy.”  According to him, it is inevitable that certain manoeuvres and operational scenarios are practised in a unit with partners from other navies in order to develop tactical abilities for combat situations. “The German and the South African Navy can look back at more than ten years of joint training. (…) It is a proven cooperation, we know how to train together and that is why is so valuable for us.” Apart from the naval cooperation, Capt. Blasche also stressed the personal friendship that exists between members of the German Navy and the SAN. With regards to the commemoration of the sinking of the SS MENDI, he mentioned that a wreath-laying to commemorate the tragedy had been organised at the naval memorial in Laboe, Germany and emphasized the symbolic value and character of this ceremony. “100 years ago we were enemies – now we have come together as friends. “

In his remarks, Minister Plenipotentiary Cassimjee stated that this exercise has to be seen in the broader context of the German-South African relationship, a relationship, which is deeply institutionalised through the Bi-national Commission. He mentioned various fields of successful cooperation between the two countries ranging from political to economic to educational and social areas. He specifically highlighted the robust and growing trade relationship, the 600 German companies currently in South Africa, which have created numerous jobs, and the German investment in South Africa.  Skill sharing was pointed out as yet another area of successful cooperation, with the SKA project being one of the most prestigious projects in this regard, where Germany and South Africa can share their expertise on technical achievements. Another area of cooperation he emphasized was the German dual education system. South Africa is working with Germany to see in how far this system could be adopted and implemented at home. Hence, this very successful exercise is embedded in a multitude of areas of cooperation already in place, which will increase in the years to come.

Capt. N. Fillis, spoke along the same lines and added that the cooperation between the SANDF and the Bundeswehr, especially with regards to staff training, is an excellent and very strong one and that the exercise, which also serves as a  confidence building measure, is to be seen as one part of this well-established and trustful bilateral defence relationship.


The visit to Rostock was rounded off by a function on board the SAS AMATOLA in the evening of 10 Mar 17. The about 100 high-ranking guests, such as the Lord Mayor of Rostock, Honorary Consul Eymer and Honorary Consul Schütte, members of the German Navy, representatives of the German defence industry, as well as the economic and political sector got to liaise with their stakeholders and enjoyed the warm and typical South African hospitality, excellent cuisine and superb South African wine while braving the cold German weather. In his welcoming words, the Commander of the SAS AMATOLA, Capt. Roux looked back at the successful naval exercise, praised the excellent cooperation with the German Navy, and commemorated his crew on a job well done. The men and women serving on board the SAS AMATOLA had done the SA Navy proud once more.

In the key-note speech, which Minister Plenipotentiary Cassimjee delivered, he congratulated both the South African Navy and German Navy on the well-executed and successful Exercise GOODHOPE VII and once again contextualised the exercise in relation to the overall South Africa and Germany relations, “which are cordial, multifaceted and considered to be of a strategic nature and institutionalised through the BNC. He said that “The importance of Germany to South Africa’s national and international interests can be seen in Germany’s support of South Africa’s domestic objectives, such as fostering economic growth, eradicating poverty, inequality and unemployment, increasing the skills base and cooperation on regional, continental and international levels. Germany, he said is therefore also positively contributing positively towards the socio-economic development of South Africa as envisaged by the National Development Plan 2030, the Nine Point Plan and the regional and the African Agenda”. Mention was also made of the deepening of economic relations with Germany through the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems and Denel in operating the Naval Dock Yard in Simon’s Town. This partnership will bring about knowledge and skills sharing as well as employment opportunities for the youth in South Africa which is also part of Operation Phakisa.


Capt. Roux, Capt Blasche, Minister Plen Cassimjee, and Capt. Fillis on board the SAS AMATOLA in front of the ship’s Lynx helicopter after the press conference.

Minister Plen. Cassimjee delivering the key-note address


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