On Thursday, December 15, 2022, the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Tonnerre reached its base port of Toulon, after a mission of 70 days, including 57 spent in the Gulf of Guinea.
Tonnerre will have traveled 1124 nautical miles in 14 million turns of propellers. He recorded 15 sorties at sea of the skippers of the amphibious flotilla, nearly 100 hours of flight time of the Panther of the 36F, and 150 hours of flight of the two Cougars of the 5e RHC embarked, 25 maritime surveillance missions, a dozen exercises and training periods with our Senegalese, Ivorian, Nigerian and Gabonese partners.
Leaving Toulon on October 6, the French ship participated in the large-scale exercise “Grand African Nemo” alongside the Moroccan surveillance frigate Mohammed V and the Senegalese patrol boat Kedougou allowing exchanges and transmission of know-how between French marines and African special forces. 4 amphibious training sessions were then conducted with Ivorian, Gabonese, Nigerian and Senegalese forces: launching of the beach reconnaissance team, night nautical raid to prepare and secure the landing beach of the embarked battle group (GTE), landing of troops and vehicles by skipping or airborne raid and support of forces on land from the sea. These operations have improved our knowledge of the Gulf of Guinea coasts and strengthened our ability to maneuver jointly in amphibious and terrestrial environments to jointly address multiple threats to safety at sea.
Another highlight of this deployment, the French ship conducted, and this is a first in this area, a BELENOS maritime counter-terrorism training with the French special forces dropped with their assault craft; thus demonstrating the ability of the French armies to intervene anywhere in the world to ensure the security of the French, on very short notice.
Tonnerre also hosted the first edition of the Regional Embedded and Digital Training Course (SIREN) with 17 trainee sailors from four countries of the Gulf of Guinea (Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Togo and Benin) on board who were able to share their experiences and enrich their knowledge on regional maritime security through the use of the YARIS tool.
Finally, PHA successfully conducted an anti-narcotics operation with the seizure of 4.6 tons of cocaine. After a flag investigation and a search of the premises, the seized products were destroyed on board, before the return of the vessel to its base port of Toulon.
This operational report illustrates the commitment of the 207 sailors on board and the embarked detachments who worked with determination and resilience in a joint dynamic that testified to a fine crew spirit throughout this deployment.
The PHA Tonnerre crossed Friday, December 9 the PHM Commandant Ducuing north of Cape Verde. This meeting, far from fortuitous, marks the succession of the unit ensuring the French permanence in the Gulf of Guinea. This interaction between the two units at sea provided an opportunity for helicopter transport of the equipment necessary for the proper conduct of the mission. Commander Ducuing now ensures the continuity of Operation Corymbe.
As part of Operation Corymbe, the France deploys one to two ships and a maritime patrol aircraft to the Gulf of Guinea on an almost permanent basis. They contribute to the reduction of maritiinsecurity, in partnership with the coastal navies and the centers of the structure resulting from the Yaoundé process. These projections complement the French system stationed in West Africa and constitute the maritime component of the operational cooperation implemented by the armed forces in the Gulf of Guinea.