French Navy vessels to visit South Africa


Two French Navy ships, Nivôse and Mistral, will arrive in Cape Town at the end of the month and early February for brief visits.

The surveillance frigate Nivôse will stop in Cape Town from January 31 to February 4, as part of its mission in the French and Australian Southern and Antarctic Areas, according to the French Consulate of Cape Town. Nivôse will be docked at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.

Nivôse is stationed at Reunion. She carries out patrols in the Indian Ocean and in the Southern and Antarctic Lands, patrolling overseas maritime areas under French sovereignty and in the deep sea to protect France’s interests.

She is equipped with a Eurocopter Panther helicopter and is armed with MM38 Exocet missiles, a 100 mm and two 20 mm guns. The 93.5 metre long vessel is powered by four 2 200 hp diesel engines and three diesel generators and has a crew of 15 officers, 61 petty officers and 21 seamen. The captain is Samuel Majou. Nivose is one of six ships of her class.

In accordance with a treaty between Australia and France, Nivôse takes part in a cooperative fishing police and surveillance operation French and Australian economic areas and every year Australian Customs Officers and Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Fisheries Officers embark on board Nivôse. In addition, Nivôse supports the scientific missions based on Kerguelen, Crozet and Saint Paul French Austral islands.

As fighting piracy has become a major issue, the French frigate was the first warship to participate to the European Union Operation Atalanta in the Indian Ocean. Since 2008, Nivôse has caught more than 80 suspected pirates.

Nivôse also bolsters bilateral relations with regional powers through port visits and joint maritime exercises, such as Oxide with the South African Navy in 2011.

The other vessel to visit South Africa will be FNS Mistral, an amphibious assault vessel, which will arrive in Cape Town on February 5.

Mistral-class ships are able to carry up to 16 helicopters. Their landing barges and hovercraft allow vehicles, tanks and soldiers to be deployed to shore. Mistral is one of three in service and was commissioned in 2006.

Mistral’s sister ship Dixmude visited Cape Town in May last year, accompanied by the anti-submarine frigate FS Georges Leygues.