French president Emmanuel Macron met with Royal Australian Navy personnel during a three-day visit to Australia.
In a sign of strengthening ties between the two countries, Macron and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited submarine HMAS Waller and landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra berthed at Garden Island, Sydney.
Macron toured HMAS Canberra where he met with French and Australian sailors and inspected some of the ADF’s most sophisticated capabilities, including the navy’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopter, army’s ‘Tiger’ Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and the Hawkei and Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, all developed in collaboration French industry partners.
Commanding Officer, HMAS Canberra, Captain Ashley Papp said his crew was delighted to host the president and the official party.
“Our relationship with France is important to Australia, with common views on global security issues and cooperation in the region,” he said.
Most recently, the relationship was enhanced by the Future Submarine Program. The next generation of twelve Shortfin Barracuda submarines will be constructed in Adelaide, with French company DCNS selected as the preferred international partner for the design.
During the president’s visit, the two countries also signed a research agreement aimed at collaborating in sonar and naval robotics technology. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Flinders University, ENSTA Bretagne and Thales will deepen and extend research linkages between Australia and France in order to contribute to the Future Submarine Program.
The AU$50 billion Future Submarine Project is the largest and most complex defense acquisition Australia has ever undertaken. It will deliver a regionally-superior submarine that meets Australia’s unique national security requirements.
“Australia and France are very much committed, and already working together, to preserve peace and security in the South East Asia and Pacific regions,” Captain Papp said.
“We also work together to provide coordinated humanitarian and disaster relief operations, which was demonstrated by the efforts of HMAS Canberra in Fiji in 2016, following Tropical Cyclone Winston,” he added.
Australia and France also participate together in Indo-Pacific exercises and cooperate on regional maritime surveillance operations run by the Forum Fisheries Agency.
Later this month, amphibious ship HMAS Choules will deploy to Noumea to take part in Exercise Croix du Sud, a biennial, multinational military hosted by the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia, with a scenario based on the devastating aftermath of a category four cyclone.