French Navy Helicopter Carrier Mistral Arrives in Mayotte for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

The French Navy amphibious helicopter carrier Mistral (L9013) has arrived in the French overseas department of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean to support local authorities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mistral was in the Indian Ocean participating in the Jeanne d’Arc 2020 (Joan of Arc) mission since the end of February. The deployment to Mayotte is part of the French Armed Forces’ Operation Resilience relief effort against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Mayotte consists of a main island, Grande-Terre (or Maore), a smaller island, Petite-Terre (or Pamanzi), and several islets around these two. Mayotte is part of the Comoros archipelago, located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa, between northwestern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique. Mayotte’s land area is 374 square kilometres and has a population of 279,471 according to January 2020 official estimates.

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.

Soldiers exiting EDA-R catamaran landing craft (L-CAT) on Mayotte. Mistral can be seen in the background. French Navy Photo.

French Navy operates three Mistral-class amphibious assault helicopter carriers an all of them are being deployed for COVID-19 relief missions.

Dixmude (L9015) 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. Tonnerre (L9014) was deployed to Corsica to evacuate patients confirmed with COVID-19 to Marseilles in mainland France.

Mistral-class ships are capable of transporting and deploying 16 NH90 or Tiger helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 AMX Leclerc tanks, or a 40-strong Leclerc tank battalion, and 450 soldiers. The ships are equipped with a 69-bed hospital and are capable of serving as part of a NATO Response Force, or with United Nations or European Union peace-keeping forces.

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