Loire Monitors Maritime Approaches to the Mediterranean

After 4 months of preparation on land, crew B of the Loire metropolitan surveillance and assistance building took charge of the boat on July 29 and set sail on August 2.

Before starting its maritime surveillance mission (SURMAR), it was to the sound of its foghorn and under particularly ideal weather conditions that the vessel had the honor of giving the start of the last round of the Pro Sailing Tour , a 50-foot oceanic multihull regatta, between Toulon and Brest.

Departure given, heading for the Hyères islands to begin a coastal patrol along the eastern Mediterranean coast at the end of the morning. As part of the permanent maritime safeguard posture (PPSM), maritime surveillance makes it possible to permanently ensure maritime security (within the framework of State action at sea – AEM) and defense of maritime approaches French (within the framework of the maritime defense of the territory – DMT). In this summer period, the stakes are high given the relaxation of sanitary measures which prefigures a densification of maritime traffic, in particular yachting, along the Mediterranean coasts.

On the gangway, the watchmen scrupulously scan the maritime landscape with binoculars, supported by the supervisor who, while ensuring the nautical control of the boat, keeps a close eye on his environment and an ear on the VHF. The link with the semaphores and the regional operational surveillance and rescue center (CROSS), based in La Garde, is permanent.

On August 5, the gangway reacted to a “PAN-PAN” alert relayed by the CROSS. The alert indicates distress in Propriano bay (Corsica), just a few nautical miles from the position of the Loire . A beach catamaran overturned. The skipper, the only passenger on board, is in difficulty when the wind is cooling to 25/30 knots and the sea is deepening. Once the distance sufficiently shortened, the operational drome craft (EDO) is dispatched to the water with, on board, a diver ready to facilitate the individual’s rescue. The rescue is done with the local SNSM, then the Loire resumes its patrol.

This SURMAR also contributes to expanding knowledge of national maritime approaches and thus complements the work of the semaphore chain that extends along the Mediterranean coast and other State resources such as the maritime gendarmerie, maritime affairs and customs.

On August 6, after 4 days of coastal patrol, the Loire docks at the port of Ajaccio under very welcoming weather. However, there was little respite for the crew because at the end of the afternoon, the vessel set sail on alert to reinforce the maritime surveillance system in national approaches. The Loire thus passes by night from Corsica to the continent, to assert from daybreak its visible presence within a system bringing together the other State administrations acting at sea.

Launched in June 2016 in Lorient, the “Loire” is the first vessel in the BSAM program series, based in Toulon since November 2017. The French Navy currently has 4 BSAMs: the Rhône , the Garonne , the Seine and the Loire . Versatile, they fulfill both military operational missions and maritime State Action at Sea (AEM) missions.

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