RUSSIAN and CHINESE WARSHIPS VISIT CAPE TOWN
for MULTINATIONAL MARITIME EXERCISE
“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters…” Psalm 107:23
Oceans of Opportunity
As our Mission is based in the busy port city of Cape Town, at what William Carey called, “the uttermost parts of the earth,” astride the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, we often find the mission fields come to us. Back in 1995, we had over 80 warships from many countries of the world gather for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the South African Navy. On that occasion, we were involved in open-air hymn services, Bible distribution and personal evangelism with sailors as far afield as China, Pakistan, India, Chile, United States, Great Britain and Saudi Arabia.
21-Gun Salute in Table Bay
On Sunday, 24 November at 13:45, a 21-Gun salute was exchanged between the Russian Navy Slava-Class missile cruiser Marshall Ustinov and the South African Naval battery on Lions Head, which overlooks Table Bay Harbour.
The Marshall Ustinov Battle Cruiser
The Russian battlecruiser, Marshall Ustinov, arrived in Cape Town for an historic multinational maritime exercise with Russian, Chinese and South African Naval vessels in the South Atlantic. The Cruiser and two support ships reached Table Bay after an almost five-month, 25,500 nautical mile (47,200km) voyage from its home base in Severomorsk. The flotilla made ports of call in Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea and took part in several sea exercises before reaching its South African destination on Sunday, 24 November. This is only the third time after the Cold War ended, that a Russian Cruiser has entered the South Atlantic. The first two being Pyotr Veliky in 2008/9 and Moskva in 2015.
Chinese Frigate Wei Fang
The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China also despatched Wei Fang, a Type 054A Frigate, for the joint naval exercise, while the South African Navy is represented by the Valour class Frigates SAS Amatola and SAS Protea.
According to the South African Navy (SAN), this naval exercise is an historic event focused primarily on “maritime economic security, interoperability and maintaining good relations between the participating navies.” The theme of the exercise is: “The Promotion of Safe Navigation and Maritime Economic Security.” The maritime exercise has been described as the first such co-operative venture between the Russian, Chinese and South African navies in the Southern Hemisphere.
The declared strategic and operational objectives are: “Development of Russian, Chinese and South African relations through the reinforcement of multinational exercises; training of a multinational task organisation to counter security threats at sea and demonstration of a multinational willingness to ensure regional maritime safety, peace and stability.” The Sea phase on 28 and 29 November will focus on “surface gunnery exercises, helicopter cross landings; boarding operations and disaster control exercises.”
Exploring the Russian Battle Cruiser
On Monday, I had the opportunity to be part of the Media briefing on board the SAS Amatola. On Tuesday, I was given a guided tour of the Marshall Ustinov. It is an impressive vessel with 64 surface to air missiles, 16 cruise missiles and an impressive assortment of anti-submarine and other anti-aircraft weaponry. The Marshall Ustinov is part of the Russian Northern Fleet.
The Saint Andrew Cross
The Saint Andrews Cross flag is the Ensign of the Russian Federation Navy and flies from the stern of the cruiser. The Saint Andrews Jack flies from the Bow, the foremost part of the vessel. Since the early 16th century, the Saint Andrews Cross has been recognised as the national flag of Scotland. In the 18th century, the Saint Andrews Cross became the Ensign of the Russian Navy. In the 19th century, the Saint Andrews Cross formed the basis for the flag of the Confederate States of America. Cape Town has a popular song: Daar kom die Alabama, to commemorate when the Confederate battleship CSS Alabama visited in 1863 and 1864.
Naval Soccer Matches
On Wednesday, the South African, Russian and Chinese navies played soccer in Green Point. Commander Greyling van der Bijl of the South African Navy commented that they had also offered to challenge the Russian and Chinese guests to games of Rugby, but were give a firm, Nyet!
“Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.” James 3:4
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa