On November 25, 2017, after almost 3 months spent driving the Passion 2017 mission, the Bougainville multi-mission building (B2M) docked at 9am at the Papeete naval base. Starting on September 4, 2017, crew B of the ship, commanded by Lieutenant Alexis Gollnisch, crisscrossed the Eastern Pacific during a three-part mission.
The first part of the mission was devoted to the assertion of French sovereignty over the island and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Clipperton . The crew, reinforced by the NEDEX (Neutralization, Removal, Destruction of Explosive Devices) team of the Armed Forces in French Polynesia, first continued the work started in 2016, to neutralize the US historical ammunition dating from the Second World War. After making sure to respect the wildlife, the team destroyed more than 20,000 shells.
The opportunity has also been taken to clean some beaches of waste that has run aground over time. The work would not have been complete without a refresh of the stele “French Republic”, on which stands a flag mast. After a ceremony of colors (raising the flag), the Bougainville sailed and started an offshore patrol, covering a quarter of the EEZ. This maneuver confirmed that the situation established by the French Polynesia Joint Maritime Center (CMC-PF), which has been monitoring Tahiti’s EEZs in French Polynesia and Clipperton, was in keeping with reality and no fishing vessel was present in the area.
Continuing eastward, Bougainville then patrolled off Central America, where the development of drug trafficking is a growing concern. Navy vessels regularly participate in international operations against narcotraficies in this area. Several opportunity exercises with friendly buildings were conducted during planned stopovers in Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica in order to strengthen links for future operations in this area. The French multi-mission building has attracted the interest of the highest authorities of these countries, as evidenced by the visit aboard the Costa Rican President.
The third part of the mission was to maintain interoperability with the US Coast Guard ( US Coast Guard ), a major partner in the Pacific, in the fight against smuggling or illegal fishing. Off the coast of San Diego, San Francisco and Hawaii, their three main bases in the Pacific, joint exercises helped to present Bougainville’s capabilities , to test the know-how of French and American sailors, and to strengthen their ability to work together. The stopovers were also used for high level meetings with the Coast Guard commandand the US Inter-Agency Agency to Combat Illegal Activities at Sea in the Pacific (JIATF-W). During the stopover in Hawaii, Rear Admiral Denis Bertrand, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in French Polynesia and Commander of the Pacific Maritime Zone, received on board his American counterpart, Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of US forces in the Pacific and presented him with the capabilities of the multi-mission building. The two admirals then discussed issues of common interest and cooperation between the French and American armed forces in this huge strategic area.
In both directions, all transits in and around the EEZ of French Polynesia were dedicated to maritime surveillance. Guided by the CMC-PF and supported by aircraft flights Guardian of 25F and satellite imagery, the building has visited four foreign longline fishing outside the EEZ, high seas, off the Marquesas . These regular inspections of foreign fishing vessels on the high seas conducted within the framework of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission(WCPFC), are part of the overall EEZ monitoring strategy conducted under the leadership of the High Commissioner of the Republic, Government Delegate for State Action at Sea, which keeps foreign fishermen outside the EEZ of French Polynesia.
The diversity of the missions accomplished during Passion 2017 shows the extent of the Bougainville’s capacities , but especially those of its crew which is completing its deployment, proud to have affirmed the importance of French Polynesia and the responsible action of France in the Peaceful. Crew A will take over to deal with the hurricane season and lead the next missions.