Maritime Reaction Squadron

The Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) is a specialised marine-like unit of the South African Navy that provides a combat ready amphibious, diving and small boat capability to the Navy.[1]

Maritime Reaction Squadron
South African marines during an exercise
Founded2006 (2006)
Country South Africa
Branch South African Navy
TypeMarine infantry
RoleAmphibious warfare and VBSS
Part of South African NDF

Formed as the Naval Rapid Deployment Force (NRDF) in 2005,[2] the MRS deploys infantry-trained South African Navy personnel in various peacekeeping roles within the African continent and to assist in boarding operations at sea, humanitarian operations and disaster relief.[1]


The end of the South African Border War saw the disbandment of the South Africa Marine Corps, leaving the South African Navy without an amphibious element.[3] After the integration of the South African National Defence Force the Navy was increasingly called on to assist with peace keeping operations. Realising that this situation would continue, the then Chief of the Navy Refiloe Johannes Mudimu, decided to create this capability by creating a Naval Rapid Deployment Force.[2] An Operational Boat Squadron was formed in 2006[4] to ensure that South Africa could commit meaningfully to the peace keeping at the Great Lakes.[3]

The Rapid Deployment Force became the Maritime Reaction Squadron on 1 September 2006.[3] The unit was formally commissioned on 8 December 2008.[5] Following the creating of the MRS the Operational Boat Squadron was upgraded to the Operational Boat Division.[3]


The squadron consists of the following components:

  • Operational Boat Division (OBD) with 10 Namacurra-class harbour patrol boats and six Lima-class utility landing craft
  • Reaction Force Division (RFD) consisting of one naval infantry company with a command and support element
  • Operational Diving Division (ODD) consisting of four operational diving teams of 17 divers.[5]
  • Operational Maintenance Division - maintains all the unit equipment[4]


Name Type Origin Image Notes
Vektor Z88 Semi-automatic pistol  South Africa 15-round magazine; licence-built Beretta 92F.
Heckler & Koch MP5 Submachine gun  West Germany
Denel NTW-20 Anti-materiel rifle  South Africa 20x82 mm and 14.5 mm variants
Vektor R1 Battle rifle  South Africa FN-FAL made under licence
Vektor R4 and R5 assault rifles Assault rifle  South Africa Multiple variants
Denel Land Systems SS-77 General purpose machine gun  South Africa Used on the Namacurra-class harbour patrol boat.
M1919 Browning Medium machine gun  United States Used on the Namacurra-class harbour patrol boat.
FN MAG General purpose machine gun  Belgium Used on the Namacurra-class harbour patrol boat.
M2 Browning Heavy machine gun  United States


  1. "Maritime Protection Squadron". February 2, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  2. Engelbrecht, Leon (November 21, 2005). "Navy setting up rapid deployment force for peacekeeping". DefenceWeb. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  3. Manganyi, Calvin (2012). "Resurrection of the Marine Capability in the South African Navy: The Maritime Reaction Squadron". Scientaria Militaria. 40 (3).
  4. Wingrin, Dean (November 26, 2009). "Exercise Xena testing Maritime Reaction Squadron". Defenceweb. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  5. Engelbrecht, Leon (December 8, 2008). "SA Navy to commission Maritime Reaction Squadron". Defenceweb. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
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