Two French Navy ships, joined by UK marines and sailors and their Wildcat helicopters, got underway from Toulon naval base on February 26 to start a five-month deployment to Asia-Pacific.
The Jeanne D’Arc mission is an annual deployment undertaken by French Navy ships over a five-month period.
Last year’s Jeanne D’Arc was undertaken by amphibious assault ship FS Mistral and La Fayette-class frigate FS Courbet.
The 2018 edition will be carried out by Mistral-class amphibious assault ship Dixmude and La Fayette-class frigate FS Surcouf.
In addition to amphibious exercises which will be carried out together with regional navies and US Marines, the ships’ port calls will include Jakarta, Bali, Darwin, Saigon and Singapore.
The integration of British units and personnel for the duration of the deployment builds on the UK’s participation in last year’s Jeanne D’Arc mission.
The deployment also demonstrates a shared commitment from both countries to enhance their maritime cooperation in home waters and around the world, in support of global security and prosperity and protection of freedom of navigation. This priority was agreed at the UK-France Summit in January 2018.
The deployment is part of the UK’s program of bilateral defense cooperation with French forces, which includes the development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, a rapidly deployable joint UK-French force that can respond to crises.
British and French forces also operate together as members of NATO, with France agreeing to contribute troops to the UK-led enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Estonia in 2019.
In addition to the Jeanne D’Arc task group, the French Navy currently has another task group composed of Mistral-class amphibious assault ship LHD FS Tonnerre and the Horizon-class air defense destroyer FS Chevalier Paul deployed to the Indian Ocean as part of the Bois Belleau 100 deployment. The deployment is named in memory of the sacrifices of US Marines during the second battle of the Marne and is scheduled to conclude in April this year.