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.