October 5, 2020 (Google Translation) – Throughout the month of September, the A crew of the multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Aquitaine carried out a presence mission in the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic, a strategic area at the heart of a new power game.
On September 4, the FREMM Aquitaine , currently armed by crew A, set sail from its port-base in Brest, for a presence mission in support of French strategy in the region. France, the first nation to set up a scientific research base in the Svalbard archipelago in 1963, has developed a solid knowledge of the polar regions. In the footsteps of the great French polar explorers, Paul-Emile Victor and Jean-Baptiste Charcot, the Navy is today one of the guarantors of this tradition of French presence in the North Atlantic, and above the polar circle. Arctic. A disputed space, the Arctic could even become, according to the Strategic Review of the Ministry of the Armed Forces published in 2017, “a space of confrontation”. France is present there through the deployment of its naval units in order to anticipate the evolution of issues, such as the opening of new maritime routes due to global warming and the search for still unexploited natural resources.
A first step in the Baltic in support of NATO partners
The deployment of FREMM Aquitaine has started in the Baltic Sea, after a transit along the sea passages of Skagerrak and Kattegat. A region with dense maritime traffic and many strategic competitors, the Baltic is also a regular deployment area for the French Navy.
These few days of navigation, punctuated by a refueling exercise at sea with the German frigate Nordrhein-Westfalen , contributed to NATO’s reassurance measures towards the States of northern and eastern Europe. In order to perfect the interoperability of the French Navy and the Deutsche Marine , Aquitaine and a German maritime force also practiced sharing the tactical situation perceived by their various sensors. These interactions help to improve knowledge of these navigation zones and the interoperability between Allied navies.
The North Atlantic, second stage of this deployment
Many of the sailors from the A crew of the FREMM Aquitaine were, for the first time, deployed in this theater. The second-master Alexis, operator in the central operations, had already operated there on other, older buildings. But this is a first on a frigate of this type and he was able to grasp during this mission the complexity and the capacities of a FREMM. “ I am in charge of controlling the air situation in an area of operations. I participate in the classification of all aircraft operating in an area, an action which can lead to the use of weapons in a crisis situation. The area is vast but even in the middle of a night shift, between an airliner and two not yet identified fighters, everything can become complex quickly. ”
Once arrived in these colder latitudes, Aquitaine continued its mission for the benefit of the strategic function “knowledge and anticipation”, one of the five functions of the armed forces according to the White Paper on Defense and National Security. The crew, despite sometimes harsh weather conditions – rough seas and low temperatures – continued their training, a permanent objective for the sailor and the soldier. Shooting exercises, use of the Caïman Marine on-board helicopter and on-board disaster control exercises punctuated the daily life of Aquitaine sailors .
After several weeks of operations, Aquitaine has finally joined its port-base in Brest.