The Overseas Support and Assistance Building (BSAOM) fulfills various support missions for the benefit of the populations. Sailors are involved in particular in fisheries policing , towing, anti-pollution, freight and equipment transport and even atoll reconnaissance.

On January 2, the Bougainville left for a month as part of the Pacific Aito sovereignty mission where it carried out international exercises and then assistance missions for the benefit of the atolls of French Polynesia. During this first part, the sailors went to the Cook Islands . For two weeks, they carried out several joint maneuvers, with the English patrol boat Tamar , in particular a tow and an assistance exercise during a simulated fire. He then interacted with the Cook Islands patrol boat: “The Tekukupa led an intervention with its visiting team on the Bougainville , designated a fishing boat for training,” says Lieutenant Commander Paul Cornet, commander of the BSAOM. Each passage of a French ship therefore offers the opportunity to train.

Soon, the two ships will meet again alongside the Americans, Japanese and other Pacific nations during Exercise Marara . The latter will consist of providing assistance to populations hit by a natural disaster. A latent danger in French Polynesia which fears submersion.

A versatile ship

The BSAOM then continued its mission by patrolling the exclusive economic zone ( EEZ) of the Cook Islands to carry out fisheries enforcement for their benefit. Actions carried out more and more regularly to establish a relationship of trust between the two States. The Bougainville traveled to these isolated locations to unload medical supplies and personnel before the typhoon season.

On the way back to Papeete , as part of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s Operation OP365 , the sailors conducted fisheries enforcement and intelligence operations to detect, report and apprehend fishing activities. illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the South Pacific, on the high seas and in the EEZs of Pacific Island States.

Assistance missions in the Tuamotus

After two weeks of missions in the Cook Islands, the Bougainville returned to the dock for two intense days: loading cargo, boarding a section of the Pacific-Polynesia Marine Infantry Regiment (RIMAP-P) and their vehicle as well as personnel of the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy (SHOM) and whalers . From a crew of 25 sailors, the BSAOM found itself with 60 people on board. Leaving on February 19 towards the Tuamotus, the sailors will carry out several simultaneous missions. At 5:30 a.m., the ship’s crane lowered the service boat (EMBSV) into the water. Chief Petty Officer Alexandre, bridge master of the BSAOM and pilot of the boat, studies with the whalers the crossing of reefs in order to “avoid corals” , because “sailing in the atolls differs greatly from navigation off the coast of the hexagon ” .

With a draft of 4.20 meters, the BSAOM can hardly access the lagoons. Whalers and other service boats then take over. At the same time, the second master Thibaut, boatman and diver, is already in the water to carry out a reconnaissance of the beach. With his partner, they open the way and create an alignment to allow the small landing craft to present itself on the right axis. “Using hand-held sounders, we look for sites where there is sufficient depth. » RIMAP personnel are then placed on land, looking for “traces of pollution and traces of life”. On these “mostly uninhabited atolls,” explains Lieutenant Commander Cornet, “our mission is to gather intelligence.”

As part of the Taamuraa mission, the military also carried out civil-military actions, such as repainting schools and carrying out masonry work. At the same time, divers allowed SHOM to deposit current meters and tide gauges in certain little-known atolls in order to update nautical charts. A delicate moment during which sailors must take into account the tide calculations and currents transmitted by the bridge master.

A precise maneuver

Given the numerous actions to be carried out in record time, planning must be perfect. Each day is optimized to allow everyone to succeed in their mission. Onboard divers are in the water daily, particularly to carry out beach reconnaissance. A way to discover new places and maneuvering techniques to reach the shore.

Suddenly, a tropical depression approaches Polynesia: the risk of a typhoon is real. The sailors barely have time to recover the SHOM equipment before reconfiguring themselves. The mission is shortened. The ship returns to the dock, refuels (with food, drinking water and fuel). Here he is again ready to help the Tuamotu islands after the passage of storm Nat.