Survey ship HMS Echo and minehunter HMS Ramsey have taken part in 70th anniversary commemorations of the invasion of southern France.
The people of Provence lined their shores to watch a procession of warships from six nations, led by their French hosts, parade along the Côte d’Azur from Cannes to Toulon.
It was along this stretch of coastline on August 15 1944 that the liberation of southern France began – Operation Dragoon.
Seven decades later, and ships from the USA, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as well as the UK accepted the invitation of the Marine Nationale to join it for anniversary events.
The ships in the sail past formed one large column as they entered the Bay of Toulon, where they were treated to an aerial display by more than 20 helicopters, Rafael and Super Étendard jets, maritime patrol aircraft and the Patrouille de France – the French equivalent of the Red Arrows.
The ships then conducted a formal sail past of the French flagship FS Charles de Gaulle.
The day after the Dragoon events, Echo hosted defence minister Lord Astor and his wife who said the survey ship’s sailors had done him and Admiral Zambellas proud.
Devonport-based Echo joined in events in southern France as her 18-month survey mission, most of it east of Suez, was drawing to a close.
Ramsey is also homeward bound to Faslane from the Middle East after more than three years in the Middle East – although her current company have been inboard for seven months.