July 22, 2020 (Google Translation) – After 40 days of deployment in the Gulf of Guinea, the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Tonnerre returned to Toulon on Friday July 17, 2020. Assessment of this CORYMBE mission : more than 5 joint patrols with the navies bordering the Gulf of Guinea and 63 hours of flight time for the Caiman helicopter of Flotilla 31F.
Party on June 8, the Thunder en route to the Gulf of Guinea, has brought to Corymbe operation of new capacity, including through the boarding of several detachments (31F, marines, amphibious flotilla, 6 th Regiment of Engineering ). On the outskirts of Gibraltar, it hosted two V22-Osprey helicopters from the US Marines Corps (USMC), based in Rota (Spain), for a touch and go session (landing training) .
The mission began with joint training with the French Elements in Senegal (EFS) and the Senegalese Navy. On June 21, he entered the lagoon of Abidjan, trained with the Ivorian patrol vessel L’Emergence to carry out cooperative action in the surveillance of the country’s maritime approaches.
On June 28, the PHA Tonnerre crossed in front of Libreville after having patrolled the Gulf of Biafra. This passage allowed amphibious training, diving and an anti-piracy exercise for the benefit of several Gabonese administrations. Leaving Libreville, the Tonnerre continued on its way to Nigeria and Benin. At the request of these countries, he patrolled with the onboard Cayman helicopter in order to reposition certain vessels of interest in the area.
After a second logistical stopover in Dakar, the Tonnerre took the road to Toulon, its base port. He took advantage of this second visit to Senegal to conduct a “surface” situational awareness exercise and winching with the Senegalese patroller Fouladou .
The PHA Tonnerre will have covered more than 16,000 nautical miles during this deployment. The Caiman marine helicopter of Flotilla 31F recorded 63 hours of flight time, including 12 maritime surveillance missions. During this mission, all the new capabilities provided by a PHA will have been put at the service of maritime security and cooperation with the navies bordering the Gulf of Guinea.
To compensate for the lack of stopover due to the health situation marked by COVID, the commander of Tonnerre conducted 16 videoconferences with the French or local authorities of 7 different African countries. These exchanges made it possible to collect the local perception of the return of a French ship in this strategic area.