U.S. Navy conducts exercise with South African Navy

SIMON'S TOWN, South Africa - A student from the Cape Academy, a school for math and science in Cape Town, South Africa, inspects the 76 mm cannon aboard USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) during a tour of the ship as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East February 9, 2011. APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, the maritime component of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

The U.S and South Africa navies jointly conducted military exercises recently.

The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) participated in a joint-maneuvering exercise with the South African Heroine-class submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S-102) off the coast of South Africa, February 10, 2011.

The exercise was part of a series of joint-training operations between South Africa and U.S. navies.

Commander Matthew Rick, commanding officer of Stephen W. Groves, stated that the exercise allowed Stephen W. Groves’ crew to test their ability to deal with real-life situations they might face during their military career.

“Training with another nation’s vessel allows the crew to execute in real time,” said Rick. “We train constantly using simulations, but having an actual submarine to train with provides hands-on experience that is unmatched in anything we can do while independent steaming. Combine that with the chance to work with the South African Navy and it was a win-win situation for both crews and nations.”

The exercise focused on close quarters maneuvering which allowed watch standers to train in vessel avoidance and contact management.

“It is extremely rare to have the opportunity to train with a foreign navy’s warship,” said South African Navy Commander Darren White, commanding officer Charlotte Maxeke. “We met every objective, and were impressed with the precision with which the crew of Stephen W. Groves handled this exercise.”

Two Stephen W. Groves sailors, Lieutenant Shane Collins and Ensign Daniel Stayton, had the unique opportunity to spend two days embarked aboard Charlotte Maxeke.

“It was really impressive to see the professionalism and efficiency with which Commander White’s crew went about their operations,” said Collins. “They were great hosts, and the whole experience is one I will treasure.”

“The crew of the Charlotte Maxeke brought us on board and helped us feel right at home,” said Stayton. “I had a great time and walked away immensely impressed with the type of operational tempo and command climate they have aboard.”

Stephen W. Groves also hosted numerous ship riders from the Charlotte Maxeke. This training was part of the U.S. Navy’s initiative to strengthen military partnership nations throughout the continent of Africa.

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