British forces are taking part in a French naval deployment to the Indian Ocean and Far East, say the MoD.
According to a press release, 40 Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel and two Wildcat helicopters have joined a French naval task force for a five-month mission.
The flagship of the deployment, helicopter assault ship FS Dixmude, left her home in Toulon today bound the Middle East and ultimately the South Pacific.
“The 30-strong detachment of Brits, led by Lieutenant Mike Wells, left home at RNAS Yeovilton last week for the two-day flight down to the south of France to join 50 US marines, two Spanish Cougar helicopters and 133 French officer cadets who are beginning their operational training.
The ship’s port calls will include Jakarta, Bali, Darwin, Saigon and Singapore. British personnel will take part in amphibious exercises and Defence Engagement. This builds on the UK’s very successful participation in last year’s Jeanne D’Arc mission.
The UK’s contribution to France’s annual Jeanne D’Arc naval deployment demonstrates a shared commitment from both countries to enhance their maritime cooperation in home waters and around the world, in support of global security and prosperity and protection of freedom of navigation.
This priority was agreed at the UK-France Summit in January 2018.”
The deployment is part of the UK’s programme of bilateral defence cooperation with French forces, which includes the development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, a rapidly deployable joint UK-French force that can respond to crises.
British and French forces also operate together as members of NATO, with France agreeing to contribute troops to the UK-led enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Estonia in 2019.