February 18, 2020 (Google Translation) – On February 11, 2020, the surveillance frigate Nivôse , deployed on a sovereignty mission in French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF) until the end of February 2020, refueled “at rocket” at anchor in Port-aux- French, located on the Kerguelen Islands.
The French Southern Territories and Seas (Crozet Archipelago, Kerguelen Islands and Saint-Paul Islands and Amsterdam as well as their protected maritime zones), located between roaring forties and howling fiftieths, constitute a demanding and unique area of navigation where everyone must recover. in question every day. The crew sharpens their seafaring skills in order to carry out a 34-day endurance patrol nonstop, all in an isolated area with changing and hostile weather. In this human and technical adventure where any action requires the adaptation of one’s know-how, the duration at sea is the main challenge.
The experience of each member of the crew is used to maintain maximum availability and face the bad sea. In this fight, the group of “mechanics” are on the front line. They must show determination, technicality and ingenuity to conduct corrective and preventive maintenance operations necessary for the availability of the building. It is necessary to be “in tune” with the material, be it the osmosis units, for the production of fresh water, whose yield drops in water at four degrees, the stabilizations put to the test by a swell of more than six meters, engines whose fluids do not appreciate low temperatures, or the Panther helicopter that he had to put on jacks to change his left train tired of landing “at six o’clock”.
To last 34 days at sea, to be able to intercept illegal fishermen or to intervene in the event of a request for assistance, it is optimal to refuel during the mission. Only this maneuver requiring coming to anchor less than 250 meters from the coast, is only achievable by winds less than 25 knots, a rare phenomenon in these latitudes. The skyrocketing refueling, which was carried out on February 11 on the Kerguelen Islands by taking advantage of a fleeting weather window, illustrated the crew’s investment in their fight to constantly push the limits of the building.
Under the operational control of the superior commander of the armed forces in the southern Indian Ocean zone (COMSUP FAZSOI) and in coordination with the TAAF community, the surveillance frigates Floréal and Nivôse, based in Reunion, are deployed annually in the French EEZ of these isolated islands between roaring forties and howling fiftieths. These missions are also an opportunity to strengthen cooperation with our riparian partners, be it South Africa for the Marion and Prince Edward Islands, and Australia for the Heard and MacDonald Islands.