A French Navy (Marine Nationale) offshore patrol vessel (OPV) is currently alongside in the Port of Durban as part of a three month southern Indian Ocean patrol.
This is the second time the Le Champlain (A623) has berthed in the South African east coast port following patrols of France’s extensive exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the Indian Ocean (a million square kilometres) and 1.7 million square kilometres in the Southern Ocean.
The 2 000 ton OPV departed La Reunion earlier this month (January) on the first leg of the lengthy patrol. Her mission, according to the French Embassy in South Africa, forms part of the French Indo-Pacific strategy which will see a ministerial Indo-Pacific co-operation forum take place in February.
Le Champlain arrived in Durban on Monday (17 January) and is set to leave port on Friday.
She is a D’Entrecasteaux Class vessel with a relatively low maximum speed of 12.5 knots and can operate independently without resupply for 30 days. Her and the class’ design gives a high at-sea availability of 200 days a year for duties related to sovereignty, law enforcement and logistical missions. These include policing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, trafficking and mining, assisting ships in distress, search and rescue (SAR) and logistic contributions to French overseas territories such as Mayotte or the Eparses Islands.
Champlain was last in the port of Durban in May 2019, her first South African port call since deployment to La Reunion in June 2017.