The French Navy will deploy the Mistral class landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessels Mistral and Dixmude to Reunion and the Caribbean to help with efforts to fight the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.
French President Emmanuel Macron made the announcement on 25 March under Operation Resilience.
“In order to federate and coordinate all the actions carried out by the military in support of the collective fight against the epidemic, the President of the Republic launches a dedicated military operation: Operation Résilience,” the French Ministry of Defence said.
“Operation Résilience will focus on helping and supporting populations as well as supporting public services to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic, in mainland France and overseas, in the fields of health and logistics. and protection. The military will engage in all sectors where they can provide support for the continuity of the state.”
The Mistral, the first vessel in its class, will support relief efforts in the Southern Indian Ocean including the islands of Reunion and Mayotte while Dixmude will deploy to the French Antilles and French Guyana area. The Mistral is already in the Indian Ocean as part of the regular Jeanne d’Arc mission.
Previously, the Mistral class LHD Tonnerre was used to evacuate coronavirus patients from Corsica earlier in the month.
Reunion has over 100 COVID-19 cases, out of a total population of some 850 000.
Each Mistral class vessel has a hospital which includes two operating rooms, an X-ray room, a dental office, a scanner, 20 rooms and 69 hospitalization beds, of which seven are fit for intensive care. 50 more beds can be installed in the helicopter hangar if needed.