After they concluded a six-month deployment in the Persian Gulf, two French Navy minehunters were loaded onto a heavy lift vessel and transported back to France.
HHL Freemantle, a heavy load carrier operated by German company HANSA Heavy Lift, was in charge of transporting the 51-meter vessels both to and from their operation area.
Éridan-class minehunters FS Andromède (M643) and Cassiopée (M642) were loaded onto the carrier from their homeport in Brest in February for the third such operation carried out by the French Navy.
This unorthodox mode of operation allows the French Navy to deploy its assets further away from their bases than it would be regularly possible.
Speaking about the challenges of the transport, HANSA Heavy Lift director of global sales Walter Prosetti said the sensitivity of the cargo required the carrier’s crew to be especially vigilant.
“We were also faced with extreme weather issues, with high winds in France restricting our movements, as well as intense heat in the Persian Gulf at 46C, which compelled us to install air conditioning on-board,” Prosetti said. “Furthermore, as this operation took place on military bases, we had to comply with restricted access, coordination between varying authorities, and re-flagging requirements.”
Adjustments had to be made to the loadspreading at the keel and cradle belting to avoid overloading the fiberglass hull.
Both minehunters needed electrical connection for the duration of the journeys, meaning extra transformers had to be purchased to supply the correct power.
Accomodation modules were rented and connected for additional technicians from the charterer, who also traveled on-board.
The contract was awarded by the French Navy to Compagnie Maritime Nantaise – MN, which in turn worked with HANSA Heavy Lift on the project.