Royal Navy sailors joined their French counterparts at action stations this week as part of one of the French Navy’s largest quarterly exercises.
Landing Platform Helicopter HMS Ocean joined Exercise Gabion off the coast of Toulon and set about demonstrating its flexibility and utility across the full range of Naval warfare.
Exercise Gabion takes place four times a year and is the French Navy’s principal operational training exercise for task group operations.
HMS Ocean, which has been working as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group, used that experience to fit neatly into France’s amphibious task group training, seamlessly operating side-by-side. A mixture of air defence exercises, boarding operations and replenishment at sea provided invaluable training and HMS Ocean also took the opportunity to build on her experience of the amphibious exercise Albanian Lion 14 which finished earlier this week.
Joining this French exercise helps strengthen the international partnership with the French armed forces that developed following the Lancaster House Treaty in 2010. Since then, the Royal Navy has been sharing expertise and operating in company with the French Navy, on exercises and operations, around the world.
HMS Ocean’s involvement in Exercise Gabion culminated with a historic meeting onboard between Commander UK Maritime Forces, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant and his opposite number, Rear Admiral Eric Chaperon, Commander French Maritime Forces. They discussed opportunities for future exchanges and mutual support, and HMS Ocean was the perfect backdrop with the plan next year for it to become the Flagship for Commander UK Maritime Forces.
Captain Tim Henry, Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, said:
“Our time operating alongside the French Navy has shown, once again, how similar our two navies are. From replenishment at sea to anti-air warfare we operate with a common language and a common understanding of the challenges faced by globally deployed navies.
“France and Great Britain are defence partners of choice in Europe and it is great that we have been able to operate together this early in HMS Ocean’s return to the front line.”
Press Release, September 22, 2014; Image: Royal Navy