France ready to host Royal Marines if UK amphibious assault ships are axed

The French Navy is considering allowing UK’s Royal Marines greater access to its amphibious ships should the Royal Navy’s HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion amphibious assault ships be axed as part of defense cuts.

This was revealed by senior French officials, according to a report in Financial Times, who said that the French Navy was ready to allow the Royal Marines to embark one of its Mistral-class amphibious assault ships.

The report comes at a time of widespread fears of possible cuts to the Royal Navy’s amphibious assault fleet ahead of a new UK defense and security review.

According to the FT report, the cooperation could be organized within the 2010 Lancaster House treaty signed between France and the UK with the aim of developing an improved cooperation between British and French Armed Forces including a joint use of equipment and materials.

While any official comments on the possible improved cooperation between the two countries are yet to be made, this would not be the first time for France and the UK to cooperate aboard Mistral-class LHDs. Earlier this year, BPC Mistral embarked two Royal Navy Mk3 Merlin helicopters from the UK’s Commando Helicopter Force for a five-month deployment to the Indian Ocean.

In addition to UK troops, French amphibious ships are a platform for cooperation with other allies. Another Mistral-class ship, BPC Tonnerre, today embarked US marines from Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit for a deployment to the US 5th Fleet area of operations.

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