French warship to visit Durban this week


French Navy (Marine Nationale) surveillance frigate Le Nivose (F732) will arrive in the port of Durban on Tuesday 31 January, ahead of her regular patrol to the French Southern and Antarctic Territories.

Home ported at Port des Galets at the island of Le Reunion, Nivose participated in Operation Atalanta, the EU Naval Force fighting piracy off the Somali coast. She also formed part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), the international coalition whose aim is to fight against all forms of trafficking (drugs, weapons, etc.) in the northern Indian Ocean area. Nivose is now scheduled to carry out a patrol in the southern Indian Ocean, patrolling overseas maritime areas under French sovereignty.

The Marine Nationale said that this “mythical and demanding mission”, given the remoteness and climatic conditions of the area, takes the crew to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). The main objectives are to ensure French sovereignty in the area, police fisheries and prevent drug trafficking in the French EEZ (Reunion, Crozet, Kerguelen, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam), gather intelligence and provide support to fishing vessels in the area and to scientists in the TAAF districts.

This stopover also offers the opportunity to strengthen the links between the South African and French forces as the French islands are near the South African Marion Island and Prince Edward Islands and share a common EEZ border.

Built by the Saint-Nazaire shipyard and armed in Lorient by DCNS, the Nivose and sister ship Floréal (F730) entered service in 1992. These vessels are 93.5 meters long and have a beam of 14 metres, with a displacement of 2 950 tons. Manned by 88 crew, armament includes a 100 mm CADAM gun turret, two F2 20 mm cannons and four 12.7 mm machine guns. A Panther anti-submarine helicopter is normally carried aboard.

Exercise Oxide 2022, the joint biennial maritime exercise held between the French naval forces stationed at Reunion Island and the South African National Defence Force, took place in the waters around Cape Town in November 2022. Although Nivose was not a participant in the exercise, she did join the South African multi-mission inshore patrol vessel SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571) and the French Navy patrol ship Le Malin (P701) for a Passex and military drills before proceeding on another patrol.

Nivôse departs Durban on 4 February.

As part of the Armed Forces Day celebrations later in February, naval ships from the Chinese, Russian and South African navies will be alongside in the Richard Bay small craft harbour ahead of Exercise Mosi II and, according to the SANDF, will be open to the public between 09:00 and 15:00 from 16 to 19 February.