THE British and French navies have recently displayed their close working relationship by sharing command of each other’s assets on two different oceans.
In the Indian Ocean, the French Ship (FS) Aconit acted in direct support of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, the multinational counter-terrorism operation in the Gulf and Horn of Africa region. CTF 150 is under the command of Royal Navy Commodore Guy Robinson, who leads a team comprising predominantly of Royal Navy personnel from within the staff of Commander UK Maritime Forces.
The CTF 150 team also includes an international element comprising of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Saudi Naval Force, and an officer from the United States Navy, all of whom work within the team in the planning and execution of operations. FS Aconit has been acting in the region to deter and intercept suspected weapons and drugs smugglers.
Meanwhile in the Atlantic, HM Ships Ocean, Bulwark, and Sutherland, as well as Royal Fleet Auxiliary Lyme Bay, were under the command of Rear Admiral Eric Chaperon, the Commander French Maritime Forces, for Exercise Griffin Strike. The aim of Griffin Strike was to test the working partnership between the two countries and test the Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.
Admiral Chaperon’s deputy commander for the exercise was Royal Navy Captain Paul Beattie, whose usual role is Chief of Staff to Commander UK Maritime Forces. The exercise demonstrated how UK and French maritime, land and air forces could be deployed rapidly for a wide range of bilateral operations, and if called upon, work together as part of a NATO, EU, or UN coalition operation.
Commodore Robinson said: “UKMARFOR and FRMARFOR headquarters work ever closer together; from operations in the Indian Ocean to major exercises in the Atlantic there is a strong bond between our navies.”
These two examples highlight the close cooperation between British and French forces at sea and in working with partners to ensure maritime security and stability. Captain Beattie added: “Exercise Griffin Strike has strengthened the close partnership between our navies, giving us a unique opportunity to take the very best working practices from both nations and deliver something truly credible.”