The biennial exercise, aimed at strengthening co-operation between developing nations and making the Southern Ocean safer, was called ATLASUR VIII and included exercises between the Brazilian, Argentinean, Uruguayan and South African defence forces.
The SA Navy sent its Fleet Replenishment vessel, the SAS Drakensberg, along with a diesel-electric submarine, S-102, named after Charlotte Maxeke, a strong-willed Bible-punching pioneer of the South African Black civil rights movement. (South Africa’s submarines are called the Heroine Class vessels.)
Brazil took part with the frigate BNS Consticuicao, Uruguay sent the Rou (Oriental Republic of Uruguay) frigate, Uruguay while the largest contingent, five ships, was supplied by the Argentine navy, which was also the host country. The destroyer, ARA Almirante (Admiral) Brown, named after Irish-Argentinean Admiral William Brown
widely seen as the father of Argentina’s navy; the helicopter corvettes ARA Espora and Spiro, the fleet ocean tug ARA Teniente Olivieri and the support ship Punta Alta, as well as the submarine ARA Salta. The Salta is of the same German design, the Type 209
as the South African S-102. Germany has made a specialty of building non-nuclear powered ships and submarines for smaller navies, which include many South American and European fleets, as well as South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and India.
According to the SA Navy,
the South African ships left Simon’s Town in October, crossed the 3,500 nautical miles to Mar del Plata on the Argentine coast, where they joined the other ships in exercising flashing light messages, cross deck landings and helicopter training, as well as casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) and damage control exercises. The South African Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) also took part in practice boardings.
The navies practiced anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-aircraft drills as well as replenishment exercises at sea, putting in at the main Argentine naval base of Puerto Belgrano on November 7.
The ships then visited the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, which lies across the bay of the Rio de la Plata, following a brief visit to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, where the former fiery opposition leader, now South African ambassador to Argentina, Tony Leon, was taken aboard to visit the ships.
On November 15, the two SA Navy ships took part in a Fleet Review to celebrate the 193rd anniversary of the Uruguayan Navy. The two ships then faced the 3,500 nautical mile journey to the Cape of Good Hope.
SAS Drakensberg arrived at naval base Simon’s Town on December 1 and SAS Charlotte Maxeke on Sunday, December 5.