In the third of its four month deployment, the French patrol vessel L’Adroit arrived in Cape Town on Monday May 12 for some well-deserved R&R (rest and recuperation).
L’Adroit left her home port of Toulon in France on March 10 with the main mission of participating in Operation Atalanta, the EU anti-piracy mission off the east coast of Africa. Having passed through the Suez Canal and while in Djibouti, the vessel was urgently retasked following the start of conflict in Yemen.
“We were disturbed from our mission Atalanta to go on a national tasking, evacuating French nationals from Aden,” Commander Luc Regnier, Commanding Officer of L’Adroit, told defenceWeb. “We were one of the main actors for the evacuation of the people in Yemen.”
For two weeks, L’Adroit was involved in the evacuation of both French nationals and refugees. Having evacuated 109 French nationals, the vessel escorted several hundred Djiboutian nationals and foreigners in transit between the Yemeni port of al-Moka and Djibouti, during the course of which L’Adroit transferred its medical team to a dhow to take care of sick passengers.
With the Yemen tasking completed by April 14, L’Adroit continued with her Operation Atalanta mission for the following 14 days, undertaking surveillance along the Somali coast.
Thereafter, the vessel steamed south, patrolling the Exclusive Economic Zones of various French foreign territories in the Indian Ocean and Mozambique Channel.
Having left the island of Mayotte in the Comoros at the beginning of May, L’Adroit will spend a week in Cape Town to perform essential maintenance and allow her to crew enjoy the sights and tastes of Cape Town.
The Gowind class vessel was built by French shipyard DCNS and made available to the French Navy for an initial three year period conducting maritime security missions, as part of DCNS’s ambition to win a larger share of the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) market.
Although DCNS is expected to participate in the tender process to supply three OPVs and three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) to the SA Navy under Project Biro, this particular port call does not involve DCNS, with the French Navy hosting just a few visits by the SA Navy.
DCNS loaned the vessel to the French Navy in 2011 for an initial three year period. This period was subsequently extended by a year, until 31 July 2015.
Regnier says L’Adroit is adaptable to the various missions it has to undertake, including anti-piracy, surveying of fishery and the evacuation of people.
“It’s an offshore patrol vessel with very good capacity,” he says, “It has no problem with rough seas, even around South Africa.”
Departing Cape Town on May 17, L’Adroit will transit up the west coast of Africa. Her anti-piracy mission not yet complete, she will support French operations in the Gulf of Guinea before returning to Toulon on July 3.