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Cuba, India and sub-equat. African nations naval actions

Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 20 Oct 2018, 14:49
The following page regroup together a number of incidents and clashes occurred into sub-equatorial Africa.

The first clashes occurred in 1965 on Tanganika Lake, when CIA-backed white mercenaries engaged against Congolese rebels backed by Cuban advisors led by the notorious revolutionary Che Guevara. Interestingly, mercenaries fighting on behalf of the newly installed pro-western regime, included Cuban exiles using the very-same Swiftclass patrol boats Monty and Gitana used previously on attacks against Cuba and transported by plane (dismantled) under CIA direction. The entire small mercenary navy constituted by these two patrol boats and entirely manned by 16 Cuban exiled mercenaries (one of their primary target was to kill or capture Che Guevara).

Subsequent naval actions involved sporadic incidents occurred during the independence struggle of Angola (by MPLA) and Mozambique (FRELIMO), followed by subsequent struggle with the respective counter-revolutionary forces (FNLA, UNITA and RENAMO) openly backed by the South African Apartheid regime.

Considering the relatively MODERN time of these bloody conflicts, it is no surprise the current Naval forces of Sub-equatorial nations have little interest to detail or report incident and clashes against groups that currently re-entered the political life as legal parties.
Differently from the naval operations in the Guinea Gulf (( link: viewtopic.php?f=149&t=55102 )), the naval warfare had little importance in this part of Africa, and while this eventually led to the downfall of the Rhodesian and South African Apartheid regimes, post-1989 multipartitism and drop of socialist economies led to the current social and economic issues.

Sources include the magnificent work done by (c)Alexander Rosin on the russian blog
Also (c)"Ernesto Guevara también conocido como el Che"; Paco Ignacio Taibo II, for details of Tanganika operations

1 November 1965
In Tanganika Lake
One armed launch with a mixed Cuban and Congolese crew had a skirmish on the lake with the mercenary Swiftclass boats. 2 light WIA (including the Cuban Roberto Bartelemi, responsible of all the launches and boats on the lake, indirectly hit by exhaust gases from a rocket-launcher after it was used against the enemy).

20 November 1965
In Tanganika Lake
The mercenary Swift-class patrol boat Gitana suffered damages due ground mortar fire, preventing her participation in the following day clash.

20 - 21 November 1965
Action in Tanganika Lake
The Cuban group of advisors led by the revolutionary Commander Che Guevara retreated through the lake in Tanganika after the local African guerrilla forces was cornered and defeated.
Three boats, named simply n°1 (with Che Guevara), n°2 and n°3: each heavily armed with a single 75mm gun on stern and multiple 12.7mm machine guns.
On day 21, the mercenary patrol boat Monty sailed alone and claimed to have clashed against “4 or 5” boats, allegedly sinking “one, perhaps two” but same mercenary sources were uncertain and indeed no damage or casualty occurred on the Cuban armed boats. However, the patrol boat Monty (armed with 1-57mm recoilless rifle, 3-12.7mm and 1-7.62mm machine guns) was hit by Cuban fire, suffering 1 WIA. Cuban sources speak of no contact at all or just enemy boats and planes observing from distance, it is likely Monty suffered only a brief exchange of fire from n°2 or n°3 without putting much of a fight and rather escaping.
Despite the failed result of the rebel ground campaign, the mercenary action failed to prevent the evacuation or killing Che Guevara (CIA and Exiles knew of his presence and hoped to kill him).

23 or 24 April 1971
Angoche incident
A mysterious and not resolved incident occurred to the Portuguese ship Angoche (1689 GRT).
The ship had 23 crewmembers and 1 passenger, and carried a military cargo (weapons, ammunitions and jet fuel) sailing on the Mozambique coast. She was found on 26 April, heavily damaged by fire with the whole crew missing but cargo mostly intact. The Portuguese junta blamed a boarding attack by FRELIMO rebels with Tanzanian cooperation (and crew allegedly brought to Tanzania and eventually executed). The South Africa apartheid regime backed this view.
FRELIMO denied accusation and officially blamed the ARA (Portuguese communist group) for the action: however, ARA did not showed to have military or personal assets in Mozambique for such action, nor the political intention to kill Portuguese citizens. Chinese press (at the time main supporter of Tanzania) alleged a “Soviet submarine” was responsible, but there is no proof of this bold claim.

While unproved and denied, excluding an incident lacking outside forces, the most likely reason was a surface action by Tanzanian Navy (likely using Chinese-made Type062 patrol boats).This could be the only naval success of the small Tanzanian Navy (a communist state at the time, aligned to China during the Cold War rather than Soviet Union). It is unlikely Tanzanian sources could admit it, even if at the time was a successful military action with elimination of a local supply ship.

31 October 1975
A motorboat of FNLA seized near Ambrizete a small Congolese (Republic of Congo) transport carrying weapons for MPLA from Point-Noire. 10 POWs.

12 November 1975
After the defeat suffered in the Battle of Quifangondo, the Zaire’s Navy (backing FNLA) dispatched three speedboats to attempt intercept deliveries of weapons from the People Republic of Congo to MPLA. The Soviet Navy in the area dispatched the landing ship Krymskiy Komsomolets (project 1171) carrying soldiers with additional anti-tank and anti-air missiles on the deck for defense purpose. The presence of the Soviet ship forced the Zaire’s units to give up attacks.
Photo of sister-ship Aleksandr Tortsev. While South African and American press alleged of direct Soviet involvement in Angola “bombing” the FNLA and the UNITA, this was false: the escort action provided by Krymskiy Komsomolets (without fights or naval engagements) was the most “aggressive” action done by the Soviet Navy in Angola.

Unclear day of 1980
Angolan Navy intercepted and seized the Zaire fishing boat Anzika.
While previously (April) a couple of Spanish fishing boats seized, the incidents resulted in usual fines for illegal catch.
This incident however appears somewhat more serious: it is confirmed 100t of catch and the nets were confiscated but it is unclear if and when the ship released.
Zaire’s regime, US-backed, was political opponent of Angola.
So far, this was the solely confirmed success of the Angolan Navy.

20 August 1982
The South Africa privately owned fishing boat “Plumstead” (also misspelled “Ptumstead”) reportedly seized on sea by Mozambique vessels on suspicious of having delivered a cargo to the RENAMO.
It is unclear for how long the boat was detained and if she was confiscated (reportedly no trace of fishing devices or catch found, reinforcing the suspect she was a small smuggler ship). There are only scant details about this incident.
So far, this was the solely confirmed success of the Mozambique Navy.

29 July 1984
Raid in Luanda
During the Angolan Civil war, a South African Navy frogmen operation was intended to sink three Angolan missile boats in the main harbor of Luanda. However, the target could not be found and limped mines were attached to merchant ships. The East German merchant Arendsee (7396 GRT) (Cargo: heavy vehicles, artillery, industrial cargo) sunk, while the Angolan merchant Lundoge (9079 GRT) (cargo: food and military equipment) suffered damage. Attempt to recover the East German ship failed and she was scuttled in open waters.

6 June 1986
Raid of Namibe
The South African Navy carried a raid into Namibe harbor. Frogmen attached limpet mines on the hulls of hips and also attacked with rocket two fuel depots (many sources speak wrongly of missiles launched from warships). The Cuban merchant “Havana” (6000tons, cargo of food) sunk in the harbor. In addition, two soviet merchants suffered damages but did not sunk: Kapitan Vislobokov (11089 GRT) and Kapitan Chirkov (11278 GRT). Despite damage, there were no casualties, both Soviet ship already disembarked a cargo of ammunition. Havana later raised but scuttled due extensive damages.

June - September 1986
Seychelles Coups
During the whole month of June, the socialist government of Seychelles was at risk of a coup instigated by South Africa.
The small island of Indian Ocean, ruled by a popular president, was for years a target of the Apartheid regime. An invasion by a mercenary force in 1981 led by the notorious mercenary leader Mike “the Mad” Hoare (the same man leading the mercenaries against Che Guevara in Congo) failed miserably with the force escaping on a hijacked plane (true to his nickname, Mike “the Mad” wanted to open pressurized windows of the plane to throw away weapons while flying). While no naval clash occurred in 1981, the botched coup of 1986, orchestrated with coordination of the traitor minister of defense, prevented by mere presence the Indian frigate INS Vindhyagiri deliberately stationed in harbor, while the Seychelles patrol ship Zoroaster (ex-Soviet hydrofoil torpedo boat project206M) with Soviet advisors made patrols to intercept alleged boats of infiltrators.
A second coup by same plotters prevented in September: the leader and his men captured on Praslin Island.
It is unclear if during September operations, Seychelles naval vessels engaged (likely) and if they seized or captured some boats used by plotters (less certain).

Early 1987
On request by Mozambique government, the Indian Navy begun patrolling Mozambique waters in search for supply boats and transports backing the RENAMO armed group. There is little to no information about these operations, while it is sure that no confrontation occurred with South African Navy, it is unknown if some RENAMO-manned boat seized.
This year, the war in Mozambique reached a bloody peak when RENAMO committed the “Hommoìne Massacre”, killing over 400 civilians inhabiting the village.

On unclear day, during the Civil War in Mozambique
The Mozambique Navy lost two patrol boats of the Soviet-made project1400E. Details off the incidents are unclear, likely due enemy ground shelling or rocket fire.

2 June 1988
The Angolan Navy suffer her own single loss during the Civil War, with the sinking of the project205 (or Project205U, the Navy received both), missile boat “4th of February”. It is unclear how the vessel sunk, no South African claim, but possibly, it was ground fire from UNITA forces or some sabotage.

8 March 1988
The rebel group FRNSTP landed forty men on Sao Tomé to attempt a coup. They were quickly routed, the entire force captured (except 2 KIA) and at least one boat seized (later used by the army, ironically a money compensation for it paid in '90s)
The group backed by Cameroon, and by South Africa operating in support of the anti-guerrilla campaign in Namibia. Angolan troops directly engaged in battle, while Soviet advisors did not engaged. Apparently, the small defense force of the country engaged no naval craft or boat during the operation (two Soviet-delivered patrols were in bad state by 1987).
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