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SA Navy commissions new specialist reaction squadron

by BuaNews Online
on 09 Dec 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The Navy's new Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) is to be commissioned at a special parade in Cape Town on Tuesday, hosted by Chief of the South African Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu.

According to the Department of Defence, this specialist unit has been trained for deployment in various peacekeeping capacities on the African continent, assisting in boarding operations at sea and assisting in humanitarian operations and disaster relief.

The unit was formed in 2005 when Vice Admiral Mudimu ordered the formation of a Maritime Reaction Squadron unit which could fulfil a specific mandate within the South African Defence Force (SANDF).

At the time, many Navy members were involved in peacekeeping operations on the African continent, including VIP Protection, observer missions and using boats to conduct patrols in the Great Lakes Region.

There was a need for a specialist unit to conduct an oversight role and it needed to be positioned within the Navy due to its expertise in riverine and littoral operations (which is the boundary area between ocean and land).

The MRS members have been benchmarked against defence forces in the US, UK and France.

They were trained to use small boats and helicopters which can be used to launch assaults from sea and to establish a beach-head on a target area.

Currently the unit 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 government.

One of the Navy projects that will ensure that the MRS is equipped to fulfil all their obligations is Project XENA. The 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.

At the event, the media will be invited to board the SAS Drakensberg, which will be berthed alongside in the harbour.

There will also be a demonstration of the MRS capabilities, teams will be deployed in small boats climbing over the side of the ship and by members fast-roping out of a helicopter onto the forwards flight deck. - BuaNews

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