The French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group left today for its Clemenceau 22 deployment, which will last until April and take the CSG to the Mediterranean.
Task Force 473 is built around aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) and includes European Union, NATO and French partner nations during the deployment. French Navy ships in the task group along with Charles de Gaulle are destroyer FS Forbin (D620), frigates FS Alsace (D656) and FS Normandie (D651), replenishment ship FS Marne (A630) and a nuclear attack submarine. Partner ships integrated into the group are U.S. Navy destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71), Spanish Navy frigate ESPS Juan de Borbon (F102), Hellenic Navy frigate HS Adrias (F459) and Royal Moroccan Navy corvette Sultan Moulay Ismail (614). A Hellenic Navy submarine will join the task force on Feb. 7.
Ross’ participating in the Charles De Gaulle CSG demonstrates “the interoperability level between U.S. and French naval forces,” the U.S. Navy said in a news release last week.
“While TF 473 operates in the Mediterranean with an integrated U.S. destroyer, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, working in close coordination with other commands throughout the alliance, is exercising command and control of a U.S. carrier strike group. The flexibility of command and control structures among allies supports the collective defense of Europe,” according to the U.S. Navy.
The embarked air group aboard Charles De Gaulle includes 20 Rafale F3R fighters of Flottilles 12F and 17F, two E-2C Hawkeyes Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft of Flottille 4F, 1 Dauphin helicopter and 1 Panther helicopter of Flottille 35F and 36F, respectively, and a NH90 NFH Caïman anti-submarine warfare helicopter of Flottille 31F. A Belgian Air Component NH90 helicopter is embarked on Forbin. Land-based fixed wing aircraft supporting the deployment are a French Navy Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft and a U.S Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
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The task force will support Operation Chammal, the French component of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS, and is also set to conduct exercises with the Italian Navy, the U.S. Navy’s Harry S. Truman CSG and other NATO ships operating in the Mediterranean, reported Naval News. The Truman CSG – which is operating under NATO – is the flagship of the Neptune Strike 22 exercise that will end on Friday, but few details have been released on the exercise due to the ongoing tensions with Russia.
Meanwhile, Russian task groups from the Pacific, Northern and Baltic Fleet are also heading to the Mediterranean to rendezvous for an exercise in the area. The Russian Pacific Fleet task group consists of cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer RFS Admiral Tributs (564) and replenishment ship Boris Butoma. The task group previously carried out exercises with the Iranian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Arabian Gulf. Meeting the Pacific Fleet task group in the Mediterranean are landing ship tanks RFS Olenegorskiy Gornyak (012) and RFS Georgiy Pobedonosets (016) and landing ship RFS Pyotr Morgunov (117) from the Northern Fleet and LSTs RFS Korolev (130), RFS Minsk (127), and RFS Kaliningrad (102) from the Baltic Fleet.
In other developments, the French Armed Force Staff disclosed on social media today that patrol ship Commandant Blaison (F793) had shadowed Russian Navy corvettes RFS Stoykiy (545) and RFS Soobrazitelny (531) in the English Channel on Sunday and Monday before handing over the watch to United Kingdom Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll (F231) and U.S. Navy destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG-80) to shadow the corvettes. The Russian ships, part of the Baltic Fleet, had left their home base on Jan. 24 for a long-range deployment that includes participation in the Russian Navy’s large scale exercise and ensuring the naval presence and display of the Russian flag in various regions of the world, according to a Russian military news release issued on the ships’ departure.