French Navy Deploying Helicopter Carriers to Caribbean, Indian Ocean for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

French Navy is deploying two of its Mistral-class amphibious assault helicopter carriers (PHA), Dixmude (L9015) and Mistral (L9013), to France’s overseas territories in the Caribbean region and the Indian Ocean respectively for COVID-19 relief efforts.

The deployment is part of the French Armed Forces’ Operation Resilience.

Dixmude left its homeport of Toulon on April 3 for its journey to the Caribbean after returning from an eastern Mediterranean mission on March 27. The vessel is expected to reach the Antilles in mid-April.

Mistral is currently in the Indian Ocean participating in the Joan of Arc mission and is expected to reach the French overseas department of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean on April 4.

Regularly deployed to provide assistance to populations in the event of a crisis, as was the case when Hurricane Irma struck Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy in 2017, the French Navy helicopter carriers will be at the disposal of the civil authorities of the Antilles and Guyana in the Caribbean, and the Réunion and Mayotte in the Indian Ocean as part of Operation Resilience. They may be hired for health support, logistics and protection missions.

The PHAs will provide useful reinforcement to overseas territories, in particular thanks to the helicopters they transport, which will be able to carry out support and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions, even in the most difficult to reach areas.

Dixmude is transporting medical equipment and supplies from the mainland, which, defined in coordination with the inter-ministerial crisis unit, will enable local authorities to strengthen their crisis management capacity. The vessel may be also used under the command of the local armed forces to provide logistical or transport missions in order to guarantee the population’s basic needs.

The vessel is carrying:

+ Four helicopters (two Puma from the Army, one Squirrel from the National Gendarmerie, one EC-145 from Civil Security).
+ Two disinfection teams from the 2nd Dragon Regiment.
+ Over 170,000 FFP2 masks.
+ Over a million surgical masks.
+ Several hundred liters of hydro-alcoholic gel.

Participating in the Jeanne d’Arc 2020 mission since the end of February, the PHA Mistral will also participate in Operation Resilience and will be engaged in support of overseas territories in the southern Indian Ocean area. It will initially support the civil authorities of Mayotte. Support actions will be defined in coordination with the civil authorities of the area.

The ship is embarked with:

+ Amphibious vessels
+ Helicopters;
+ An onboard battle group (EWG), which will complement the staff of the Foreign Legion of Mayotte (DLEM) detachment, thus strengthening the military and logistical capacities.

The French Navy earlier deployed its other Mistral-class helicopter carrier Tonnerre (L9014) to Corsica to evacuate patients confirmed with COVID-19 to Marseilles in mainland France.

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