The UK Royal Navy and the French Navy demonstrated the “entente formidable” in the Mediterranean ten years after the landmark agreement between Britain and France.
During a combined exercises off Cyprus, French Navy Cassard-class anti-air frigate FS Jean Bart (D615) came under command of Royal Navy amphibious transport dock HMS Albion (L14) and her Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) – LRG(X) – task group.
The Toulon-based frigate linked up with the UK task group – Albion, Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon (D35) and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Bay-class auxiliary landing ship dock (LSD(A)) RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) – for various serials in the eastern Mediterranean including air defence, joint manoeuvres and practice Replenishment at Sea (RAS).
The only stores transferred by the line linking Albion with Jean Bart was a ceremonial plaque from the UK flagship… and a bottle of champagne in return.
“It is a real pleasure to work with our French allies during this phase of the deployment,” said Lieutenant Commander David Knowles, the task group navigator. “It is vital that we maintain and build on our strong ties with other nations during these challenging times, and working alongside FS Jean Bart only strengthens our presence.”
Commander Deschamps, Captain of FS Jean Bart, said: “The Littoral Response Group deployment once again demonstrates the entire interoperability between the French and the Royal Navy in all kinds of operational environments. As British destroyers usually escort French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the Jean Bart can join a multi-combat amphibious task-force sent to one of the most strategic areas of the world and take part in the development of new British capabilities.”
It’s the second time in the deployment Albion has linked up with the French Navy (Marine Nationale); just days after leaving Britain back in September, the task group took advantage of the air group of French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle. The ships were repeatedly ‘attacked’ off Brittany by French Rafale fighter jets to give the French pilots realistic targets to train against… and likewise for the task group’s sailors and Royal Marines trying to fend them off.
The LRG(X) deployment focuses on supporting NATO allies and regional partners in the Mediterranean, North Africa and Black Sea region, as well as testing Future Navy and Future Commando Force equipment, tactics and concepts.