It is between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sunday March 5, a few dozen nautical miles from Toulon. A FREMM engaged in the ORION 23 exercise is the victim of a fictitious missile fire from an enemy aircraft, while a metropolitan support and assistance building (BSAM) patrolling nearby is hit by a fictitious rocket fire not exploded, causing a leak [1] .

These impacts cause several casualties, damage the two buildings and severely hinder communications with the other buildings of the force, in particular with the PHA Tonnerre , from where the Maritime component commander (MCC) directs the naval force (TF 471).

The alert was given, and faced with the human and material damage caused by the two strikes, the MCC urgently reorganized TF 471: the first step was to secure the area and prevent possible additional strikes by interposing units, so as to be able to provide assistance to the ships affected in the best possible conditions. This assistance aims to contain the damage and take care of the injured as quickly as possible.

The crisis unit is thus brought together within the on-board staff. It is made up of a health adviser and a regulating doctor from the armed forces health service (SSA), the “personnel” and “logistics” cells of the MCC, and includes commissioners of the armed forces. All coordinate with their counterparts in the affected buildings, depending on the means of communication still available after the damage suffered by the latter.

On the FREMM, 4 sailors died instantly, 25 others were injured, while the BSAM counted 2 injured. The Tonnerre and Mistral amphibious helicopter carriers , sailing nearby, were put on alert. In four hours, the crisis unit coordinates the care of the 27 injured and their transfer to the two PHAs, depending on the degree of urgency and the nature of their injury: transfer by Panther or Caiman Marine helicopter for the most serious injuries. serious, in light craft for the others.

The victims are evacuated to the PHAs according to their severity according to the medical-surgical support of the amphibious operations. Thus, one of the PHAs ensures the reception of the most seriously injured by the resuscitators and surgeons of role 2, while the other applies to the care of the lighter injured, then to the hospitalization of the first stabilized operated patients. At the heart of this care, the onboard personnel of the SSA provide the necessary care, in the face of injuries of very varied magnitude, testing their know-how in war medicine.

In parallel with the evacuation of the wounded, a second BSAM integrated into the TF 471 contributes to extinguishing the fire on board thanks to its powerful water cannon. Given the heavy damage suffered on the FREMM’s propulsion system, the BSAM then towed it, illustrating the ability of these vessels to provide timely assistance in the heart of a high intensity naval combat scenario.

The great reactivity of the buildings of TF 471, the mobilization of the sailors and medical personnel of the SSA constituting their crew, and the coordinated use of helicopters and naval means made it possible to train the entire Task Force in a realistic manner to faced with a critical situation. The material and human damage simulated was indeed very close to the reality of a naval combat.

This unprecedented dimension of training was made possible by the variety and number of naval resources engaged at the heart of the ORION exercise, in a permanent search for extreme realism in operational preparation.

Initiated in 2021, ORION 2023 is a major exercise of the French armies, the 2nd phase of which begins on February 21 in the south of France. Responding to numerous operational preparation objectives, ORION 2023 allows joint and multinational training, never before carried out to date, according to a scenario going up to high intensity. Realistic and demanding, the exercise takes into account the different environments and fields of conflict (cyber, space, influence, information struggle).

[1] This scenario, fictitious but realistic, saw sailors from both crews playing the role of casualties, with wounds made up.