French frigate headed for Cape Town

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The French Navy patrol frigate FS Nivose will make port in Cape Town on Saturday. The ship will again sail next Thursday.

The Floreal-class light surveillance frigate is no stranger to South African waters, with its homeport at Port des Galets on La Réunion.

Last October, the Nivose and South African frigate SAS Mendi as well as Mozambican personnel jointly conducted exercise “Oxide.” Mendi was in the region as part of Operation Copper, the Southern African counter-piracy patrol.

South Africa and France have for many years conducted bi-annual naval exercises but last year was the first to involve the Mozambique Navy. A number of attacks against ships have been made by pirates in the approaches to the Mozambique Channel including the seizure of the Mozambique fishing vessel Vega 5 in December 2010, an incident that led directly to South Africa committing naval and air force assets to guarding the channel against further incursions by pirates.

Meanwhile, the Nivose’s sister, Floreal, has arrived in Dar-es-Salaam on an official visit lasting three days, the Ports and Ships website adds. The Floreal has been attached to the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) since last November. She has been active in escorting a number of ships carrying food aid to the beleaguered population of Somalia in recent weeks. The ship has also engaged in active pursuit and disruption of pirates operating across the Indian Ocean.

Ships of the class displace 2600 tonnes (2950 tonnes full load) and boast a length of 93.5m, a beam of 14m and a draught of 4.4m. Speed is 20 knots (37 km/h) and range 10 000 nautical miles (19,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h). The shp’s company is 11 officers, 36 non-commissioned officers and 42 sailors. Armament includes two Exocet MM38 missile launchers, one 100 mm gun with a Najir fire control system, two 20 mm modèle F2 cannon and a Eurocopter AS565 Panther light helicopter.