Charles de Gaulle launches a Rafale multirole fighter (above) 

In the ongoing fight against Daesh, the Type 23 Frigate HMS St. Albans has made a rendezvous with Charles de Gaulle, flagship of the Marine, or French Navy, east of Suez. The frigate has become the latest vessel to join Task Force 50, a coalition fleet operating in the Indian Ocean, arriving today on the 22nd January. Task Force 50, a highly visible symbol of naval alliance with a total displacement of 80,000 tonnes, consists of the nuclear-powered carrier Charles de Gaulle, the French Horizon class Air Defence Frigate Chevalier Paul (similar in role and design to the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Daring class destroyer), the two FREMM multirole frigates Provence and Aquitaine, the Durance class support ship Marne along with the allied German Navy frigate Augsburg. 

St. Albans has been deployed on counter-piracy and -narcotics operations in the Indian Ocean for the last month, along with taking time out for ASW exercises in the Gulf with the US Navy, and has now been give the chance to practice interoperability with a Carrier Strike Group, developing the skills that will be required when St. Albans will find herself providing escort duty to the upcoming Queen Elizabeth class supercarriers. She joins HMS Defender on Operation Inherent Resolve (the fight against Daesh), a Type 45 Destroyer currently proving powerful air defence and radar coverage to the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group elsewhere in the region, developing similar skills- although St. Albans will be watching the depths, rather than the clouds, for incoming threats.

The commanding officer of St. Albans, Cdr Richard Hutchings, said of the operation with Task Force 50:

“HMS St Alban’s rapid integration into the French strike operations against Daesh is symbolic of the UK’s solidarity and proof of the close relationship between the two nations’ military forces”

Commissioned in 2001, FS Charles de Gaulle was the first CVN (nuclear powered aircraft carrier) built outside the United States, making France the third nation in the world to build a nuclear powered surface vessel (after the United States and the Soviet Union with their Kirov class battlecruisers). Named after the legendary French president, general and statesman, de Gaulle displaces 43,000 tonnes and is deployed against Daesh carrying 18 Rafale N and 8 Super Entendard fast jets, carrying out bombing raids against Daesh positions in Iraq and Syria.


Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset is pictured during counter piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. Photo: LA(Phot) Abbie Gadd/MOD [OGL (], via Wikimedia Commons.
Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset is pictured during counter piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. Photo: LA(Phot) Abbie Gadd/MOD [OGL (], via Wikimedia Commons.


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jon livesey

It’s probably a bit off topic for UKDJ but the frequency with which French and UK or US and UK warships are operating together with apparent ease undercuts the argument that the UK needs to join a joint EU military, an argument that was being asserted less than a couple of weeks ago by Tony Blair.

And of course inter-operation isn’t something new. Inter-operation was the rule during both World Wars. Political integration just doesn’t seem to me to have much to do with it.

Dave B Philips

NATO is a long established military alliance with proven and complicated command structures and operations. An EU defence force makes little sense in the grand scheme of things, requiring yet another complicated command structure, more military resources and money. NATO serves the continents security needs as it has done for many decades and should continue to do so. No need for more EU bureaucracy and no need to listen to Blair.


This seems to be just political PR.

Exactly what underwater threat are they expecting?

Ok, its useful to have some basic coverage, but it seems that that is covered by having one frigate in the tast force, not needing ours as well.

Dave B Philips

This is all nothing new. Political PR stunt? Wouldn’t quite put it like that but it is a sign of unity against the common enemy. In addition, As the article implies, This frigate and the majority of its crew will be escorting our new QE carriers when they arrive so it could well be seen as training exercise and a brush up for our Frigate crew. Also, HMS St Albans is more than just a submarine hunter. It has Sea Wolf AA missile system, Anti ship capabilities, Decoy’s and has experience in Anti-Piracy tasks for which given their location is… Read more »

jon livesey

You have a point, but contingency planning has to take account of threats that have not yet been seen. If the CdG took an anti-ship missile and we had a frigate around that wasn’t on escort duty at the time, NATO would look like a bunch of idiots.


I guess at some point, groups like the isamic state will use cheap offensive vessels to try and take out these types of ships, to achieve some PR battles.

Getting enough explosives onto a small craft, to take out a modern navy ship might be another issue.

I guess something like the subs used by the drug groups in latin america could be seen in the future.