French Navy Kicks Off Jeanne d’Arc 2024 Deployment

February 25, 2024 10:03 PM
FS Tonnerre departing Toulon on Feb. 19, 2024. French Navy Photo

The French Navy began its Jeanne d’Arc 2024 deployment last week with the departure of amphibious assault ship FS Tonnerre (L9014) and frigate FS Guépratte (F714) from Toulon Naval Base, with this year’s mission involving a near circumnavigation of South America.

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 continued the mission name, with one of its three Mistral-class amphibious assault ships and a surface escort carrying out the deployment. The mission combines the end stage of the training course for French naval academy cadets with an operational presence and engagement deployment. Last year’s deployment saw the mission circling the globe. The Jeanne d’Arc task group also will serve as a ready response force for any nearby crises that occur during its deployment.

A total of around 800 service members are taking part in the deployment, comprising 640 sailors (including 162 naval cadets) and 150 soldiers of an embarked French Army battlegroup. The battlegroup comprises two light cavalry platoons, an infantry platoon, a command element and medical team, a section of combat engineers, an artillery forward-observer team and an aviation detachment with two Gazelle helicopters. A French Navy Dauphin helicopter also is embarked for the deployment. A total of 40 ground vehicles operated by the battlegroup – a mix of combat, transport and engineering vehicles – are also included.

A French Ministry of Armed Forces release stated the deployment will last 149 days with three major amphibious exercises planned – in Brazil, Chile and the United States – along with 11 port visits. The release did not give dates for each stop or activity execution. The Jeanne d’Arc mission is heading toward the port city of Mindelo, Cape Verde, for its first stop and then crossing the Atlantic Ocean to arrive at Cayenne, French Guiana. The mission also will conduct activities supporting maritime enforcement operations in French territorial waters before conducting amphibious drills with Brazil off the coast of Belum, Brazil.

The mission then heads to Rio de Janeiro to carry out a port visit and the Rio 24 amphibious exercise with the Brazilian Navy, and then heads to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a port visit. It then sails around Cape Horn to make a port visit to Valparaiso, Chile, and to conduct an amphibious exercise there. Following that, a port visit to Lima, Peru, will be carried out, with a maritime enforcement exercise to take place there. The Jeanne d’Arc mission will then transit the Panama Canal and subsequently call in to Cartagena, Colombia.

A port visit to Fort-de-France, in the French territory of Martinique, follows, where maritime enforcement operations will be carried out, along with the multinational Caraibes 24 exercise. “This major exercise will reinforce the integration of the French Armed Forces in the Antilles-Caribbean zone,” stated the release.

From the Caribbean, the Jeanne d’Arc task group will make its way to Norfolk, Va., for a port visit and also to carry out Chesapeake 24 with the U.S. Navy, which will “highlight the joint ability to plan complex amphibious operations and commemorate the anniversary of the historic alliance between France and the United States,” according to the release.

The mission will then cross the Atlantic to the French port city of Brest and then both ships will head to the Mediterranean, with Guépratte also visiting Lisbon, Portugal. Both ships will then link up to transit the Strait of Gibraltar to enter the Mediterranean before heading back to their home port of Toulon.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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