March 10, 2021 (Google Translation) – On March 6, 2021, after more than twenty days spent operating in the Mediterranean Sea, the Carrier Strike Group (GAN) crossed the Suez Canal thus marking the entry of Task Force 473 into a new part of the CLEMENCEAU 21 mission.
If the Frigate multi-missions (FREMM) Provence opened the march on March 5 as a precursor, it is in a group formed that the buildings making up the TF 473 began crossing the Suez Canal. On the bow of Charles de Gaulle, the Egyptian frigate El Fateh and the Air Defense Frigate (FDA) Chevalier Paul led the way. Behind the aircraft carrier, the Belgian frigate Léopold I and the Command and Supply Building (BCR) Var brought up the rear. At the end of the day, the carrier strike group reached the Red Sea, ushering in the start of a new operational phase.
Beyond particularly confined waters in this 280 to 345 m wide and 193 km long canal, the Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea is a strategic nerve point for world trade. Each year, it sees more than 18,000 ships transporting more than one billion tonnes of goods, representing on average about fifty ships per day. The French presence associated with that of its partners (Belgian and Egyptian), but also regional, in this strategic area underlines a common desire to preserve free movement there.
The new operational phase which is now beginning for the GAN and its allies includes first of all a patrol in the Red Sea then in the northern Indian Ocean, punctuated by major cooperation exercises with allied and coastal navies. With its multiple and modern sensors, the GAN contributes to stabilization and security, but also to the constitution of a French capacity for autonomous assessment of the situation in this region. This phase then includes the integration of the GAN into Operation CHAMMAL, the French component of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) in the fight against Islamist terrorism. Task Force 473 will thus reinforce, from the Arabo-Persian Gulf, the French means already deployed in the area.
For 48 hours from entering the Suez Canal, the carrier strike group cooperated with the Egyptian-class frigate Gowind El Fateh. Anti-aircraft and anti-surface combat maneuvers, but also tactical evolutions for the protection of the aircraft carrier and the landing of helicopters from the air group on board the flight deck of the Egyptian frigate, confirmed the ability of our navies to operate together. This growing interoperability reflects a high degree of mutual trust and augurs well for future particularly beneficial exchanges.