India-Brazil-South Africa to flex naval might

Posted Sep 7, 2010 by Christopher Szabo
In a show of the growing strength of developing countries, the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) is kicking off a two-week long joint naval exercise (IBSAMAR II) at the weekend in which all three navies will take part.
The biggest ship in the upcoming exercise  the Indian Navy ship INS Mysore.
The biggest ship in the upcoming exercise, the Indian Navy ship INS Mysore.
A press release from the South African Navy says IBSAMAR stands for IBSA-Maritime Exercise and the three navies will aim to increase joint capabilities in making the southern seas safer.
IBSAMAR I was held in 2008.
The trilateral exercises will be occur off the South African coast as it is halfway between India and Brazil, but still involves up to 4,000 nautical miles of sailing for some participants.
South Africa was the lead planner nation for IBSAMAR I and India takes the slot this year with much of the planning and also fielding four ships, including the biggest in the exercise. This is the INS Mysore, a guided-missile destroyer. Other Indian Navy ships include the frigates INS Tabar and Ganga and the fleet tanker INS Aditya.
According to Poder Naval, Brazil will field the frigate BNS Niterói and a Super Lynx helicopter.
BNS Constituição  a Niteroi-class frigate of the Brazilian Navy.
BNS Constituição, a Niteroi-class frigate of the Brazilian Navy.
The hosts, South Africa, will deploy the SAS Amatola and its sister-frigate SAS Spioenkop, as well as the Offshore Patrol Vessel SAS Galeshewe, the Fleet Replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg and the submarine SAS Queen Modjadji I.
The frigate SAS Spioenkop.
The frigate SAS Spioenkop.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) will be present with Oryx and Super Lynx helicopters as well as Gripen fighters and Hawk fighter trainer aircraft.
The Gripen C single seat fighter-ground attack-reconnaissance multirole aircraft of the SAAF.
The Gripen C single seat fighter-ground attack-reconnaissance multirole aircraft of the SAAF.
After, the Indian Navy will continue to the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles in order to strengthen both island nations’ maritime capabilities.
A South African think-tank pointed out the small size of South Africa’s military in comparison to those of India and Brazil. Brazil has a large navy, including an aircraft carrier, of 89 ships. India, not surprisingly, has the largest in two fleets, East and West, of 143 warships while South Africa has a total fleet strength of 22 warships.
The article also pointed to the increased number of large ships sailing around the Cape of Good Hope. There are two reasons for this: The Suez Canal cannot handle the largest cargo and oil carriers as well as the problem of Somali piracy, which, despite efforts by some of the world’s most powerful navies, is on the increase.
The IBSA Forum is an example of the “South-South” dialogue, a term which refers not so much to nations in the geographical “South,” but to Third World or Developing nations. South Africa, Brazil and India have much in common: A huge gap between rich and poor; fast-growing economies; a colonial heritage and a feeling of being leaders in their particular regions. It is also important that all three are democracies.
As a result of the IBSA Forum initiative in 2003, trade, tourism and other contacts between the three nations has increased and while Brazil and South Africa have tended to concentrate on defence cooperation, India has entered the South African market in a big way.
An oil tanker
Oil tanker
Photo by Zero
The upcoming IBSAMAR II exercise will have live-fire drills, radio compatibility and Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) exercises as well as anti-aircraft and anti-terrorist drills.
Although so far only the Indian Navy has tackled the piracy problem in the Indian Ocean, it can be hoped that a diplomatic and political solution, perhaps backed by a military one, can be found for it, while the three navies concentrate on the very large and ongoing problems of human trafficking, drugs and illegal fishing in the waters of both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.