Naval News reports seizure of 1.7 tons of cocaine in an unusual place, the Gulf of Guinea, off the West coast of Africa. It was apparently incidental a normal French Navy deployment, not specifically a drug interdiction operation.
I found it a bit unusual that the cocaine did not appear to be well hidden. That might indicate how unlikely interception along this route may be.
Significantly this interception was conducted in cooperation with the Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network’s centers of the Yaoundé Process.
The “Landing Helicopter Dock” (LHD) Mistral, is certainly not the type vessel typically involved in drug interdiction.
The frigate involved, FS Courbet, is a Lafayette class frigate. This class always seemed similar in function to Coast Guard WHECs, because, as built, they had no ASW capability. Aside from the Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles they carried, in many respects their capabilities were similar, particularly after the WHECs were FRAMed. The French ships were built about aboout three decades after the Hamilton class. In some ways they apear to be as an intermediate design between the Hamilton class and the Bertholfs. FS Courbet is smaller (3600 tons full load), slower (25 knots), and has less range than the Bertholf class NSCs (7,000 nmi), but has been recently upgraded with a hull mounted sonar, improved point defense AAW systems, and later model Exocet ASCMs.
> It was apparently incidental a normal French Navy deployment, not specifically a drug interdiction operation.
Task Group “Jeanne d’Arc” is the French Navy’s annual long training cruise (4-5 months), composed of one of the Mistral LHDs carrying officer cadets, with a Lafayette frigate for escort. On this current deployment Mistral carries 160 cadets and an Army amphibious contingent of 120 men.
They are generally temporarily integrated into local missions when passing through an area, in this case Operation Corymbe in the gulf of Guinea. Earlier this year the task group took part in anti-piracy Operation Atalanta off the coast of Atalanta on the way to visiting India.
The two ships from here will continue their cruise via Brazil to the Caribbean, then return to Toulon.
Operation Corymbe, while a general presence mission, is mostly about anti-piracy patrols and drug interdiction. Last year LHD Dixmude, regularly deployed to Operation Corymbe, intercepted a cargo ship with 6 tons of cocaine.
had some fun liberty in toulon while i was in usn..