French Navy amphibious warship FS Dixmude (L9015) and frigate FS La Fayette (F710) will depart on Feb. 8 for the Mission Jeanne d’Arc 2023 deployment, which will see the two ships circumnavigating the globe.
The Jeanne d’Arc mission is an annual deployment for the French Navy – named for former helicopter cruiser Jeanne d’Arc (R97), which primarily served as a training ship for the French naval academy. Following the ship’s decommissioning in 2010, the French Navy began using the mission name, with one of its three Mistral-class amphibious assault ships carrying out the first deployment.
The deployment will go on for 155 days until the two ships return to their homeport of Toulon, France. A total of 12 port visits are planned. According to the plan, nine of the port visit also involve an amphibious or ground exercise by embarked French troops. Seven hundred ninety naval and army personnel, including 160 French naval academy cadets, will embark on the deployment.
From February to March, the Jeanne d’Arc task group will sail from Toulon, transit the Suez Canal, and drill with the Egyptian Navy before reaching its first stop in Djibouti for an exercise. From Djibouti, the task group will sail to Cochin, India and will also support the European Union’s Operation Atalanta, the EU’s naval mission off the coast of Somalia, while en route. The Atalanta mission is meant to protect vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) and other vulnerable shipping and deter piracy. Operation Atalanta also monitors fishing activities off the Horn of Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean to monitor weapons and drug trafficking, illicit charcoal trade, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
At Cochin, the task group is scheduled to hold an amphibious exercise and then participate in La Pérouse, a naval exercise in the Indian Ocean with the U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, the Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. The task group then sails to Singapore for an amphibious and ground exercise there and then moves on to Jakarta, Indonesia for a similar engagement.
From April to May, the Jeanne d’Arc mission sails from Jakarta to Townsville, Australia, where it will carry out another joint amphibious an d ground exercise. It will then move on to Noumea, New Caledonia, where it will participate in the French-led Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise Croix Du Sud. The task group then splits into two, with Dixmude stopping over in Fiji for a ground exercise and Lafayette making a port call in Tonga. The two ships then join together again to head to Papeete, French Polynesia, though no ground exercises are scheduled. The task group then sails through the Pacific, with a June arrival in Acapulco, Mexico, where it will participate in another ground and amphibious exercise.
From Mexico, the task group will transit through the Panama Canal and head to French territories in the Caribbean, splitting off again. Lafayette will go to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, while Dixmude is slated to sail to Fort-de-France, Martinique for drills. While in the Caribbean, the task group will also support counter-narcotics operations at sea. The two ships will link up again for the homeward trip through the Atlantic and Mediterranean and arrive home at Toulon in mid-July.
As the Jeanne d’Arc mission prepares to set out, the French Navy’s Charles De Gaulle Carrier Strike Group (CSG) continues to operate in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The CSG – which includes carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), destroyers FS Forbin (D620) and FS Provence (D652), and replenishment ship FS Marne (A360) – is reinforced now that it started operating with U.S. Navy destroyer USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) on Monday, according to a French Armed Forces operations update.
Delbert D. Black is the fourth U.S. destroyer to integrate with the Charles De Gaulle CSG since the CSG departed for its deployment on Nov. 15, 2022. USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) also operated with the CSG when it was in the Mediterranean from November to December and USS Truxtun (DDG-103) operated with the CSG in the Red Sea in December.
From Saturday to Tuesday, the CSG carried out exercises with JMSDF destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD-117), which is currently in the region as the 43rd Deployed Surface Force for Counter-Piracy Enforcement (DSPE), Japan’s ongoing rotational deployment towards countering piracy in the region.
The Charles De Gaulle CSG is now performing Exercise Dare and Prevail 2023, which began on Wednesday with various partner nations.
Under Dare and Prevail 2023, the CSG has so far conducted an exercise with the Italian Navy frigate ITS Carlo Bergamini (F590), which is deployed in the region for Operation Atalanta and a joint exercise with the Royal Air Force of Oman and U.S. Air Forces Central.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO) issued a news release on Thursday stating that around midnight that day, a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) destroyer and frigate were sighted sailing southeast in an area 130 kilometers northwest of Kume Island. Images and hull numbers in the release identified the ships as destroyer CNS Zhengzhou (151) and frigate CNS Anyang (599). The two PLAN ships then sailed through the Miyako Strait to enter the Pacific.
The release stated that a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base, Kyushu and a P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa shadowed the PLAN ships.
On Friday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense announced that in January, Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel HMS Spey (P234) conducted monitoring and surveillance operations in support of United Nations sanctions on North Korea. The announcement said this was the tenth time the Royal Navy has conducted the mission since 2018.