Two Royal Navy Merlins have embarked French amphibious assault ship FS Mistral, the lead ship of French Navy task group, for the French annual Jeanne d’Arc deployment.
The five-month amphibious deployment will take the force – which includes the frigate Courbet – as far east as Japan and Guam, as far south as the northern coast of Australia, with visits to Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Djibouti on the 24,000-mile round-trip.
A flight from 845 Naval Air Squadron will be a permanent presence aboard the French assault ship FS Mistral as she leads the deployment.
The ships left the French Navy’s Mediterranean home of Toulon yesterday in a ceremony attended by the head of the Marine Nationale Admiral Christophe Prazuck, with the two troop carrying Merlins arrayed on the flight deck and sailors, soldiers, marines and Brits lining the upper deck for the formal departure.
This years’ Jeanne d’Arc deployment will also allow 137 French and foreign officer cadets to experience their first long-duration deployment.