On 30 November, under the direction of the Maritime Prefect of the Atlantic and the Prosecutor of the Republic of Brest, the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Tonnerre seized more than 4.6 tons of cocaine from a tugboat in the Gulf of Guinea.
Supported by a Falcon 50 aircraft detached to Dakar and two embarked helicopters, the PHA Tonnerre visiting team intervened aboard the Brazilian tug to ascertain the nature of its cargo. With the approval of the Brazilian authorities, the French sailors searched the building and discovered numerous bales of cocaine. These were then destroyed on board. This seizure of more than 4.6 tons of cocaine represents a total value estimated at €150 million.
The French Navy’s action has been carried out within the framework of the provisions of international law, in particular the Montego Bay Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) and the Vienna Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988).
The 230 sailors of Tonnerre were mobilized to carry out this operation to combat illicit trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea. This crew includes a team of marines specialized in the control of ships at sea as well as an embarked tactical group of the Army. Tonnerre also used a Panther helicopter from the French Navy and also a Cougar helicopter from the Army embarked during the mission. The air force was supported by the French Navy’s Falcon 50 aircraft projected in Dakar.
The PHA Tonnerre has been deployed since October as part of Operation CORYMBE. In close collaboration with coastal navies, it contributes to maritime security and the fight against illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.
Since 1990, one to two French ships, reinforced by a maritime patrol aircraft, have been deployed in the Gulf of Guinea almost permanently as part of Operation CORYMBE. By strengthening the capacities of coastal navies, France participates in the development of the security architecture resulting from the Yaoundé process. Operation CORYMBE completes the French system in West Africa by participating in the maritime component of operational cooperation. Moreover, this deployment is in line with the concept of coordinated maritime presence supported by the European Union.