French Navy press release – Translated by Naval News
In addition to a reinforced medical team, three detachments (amphibious detachment, naval infantry and air detachment) reinforce the Tonnerre‘s capabilities for this operation in the Gulf of Guinea.
With nearly 270 sailors on board, the LHD will ensure the regular presence of a French vessel in the Gulf of Guinea, an area marked by numerous maritime security issues and where nearly 80,000 French nationals live ashore.
In addition, the Tonnerre will continue its cooperation with the navies of the region in support of the Yaoundé process by participating in joint patrols. Its presence will also provide an opportunity to conduct training with the French forces stationed in the area.
Finally, the 152nd mandate of Operation Corymbe comes in the particular context of the Covid-19 health crisis, which requires the utmost vigilance. Strict prevention and organisation measures have been taken on board in order to contain any risk of contamination on land, protect the health of the crew and guarantee the availability of the vessel. Stopovers will be limited to what is strictly necessary (refuelling) and will be carried out avoiding any contact. Reinforcements from the Armed Forces Health Service (SSA) have been taken on board to strengthen the capacity to detect, treat and even evacuate any seamen presenting suspicious symptoms.
About operation Corymbe
Since 1990, France has been deploying one or two vessels on an almost permanent basis on the Corymbe mission in the Gulf of Guinea. The mission has two major objectives: to be in a position to provide possible protection for French nationals in the area in the event of a crisis and to contribute to the reduction of maritime insecurity, in particular by helping to strengthen the capacities of the navies bordering the Gulf and the centres of the structure resulting from the Yaoundé process. The deployment of French vessels on the Corymbe mission completes the French presence in West Africa (Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal) and participates in the maritime component of the operational cooperation implemented regionally by these forces.
Naval News comments:
The patrol vessel Lieutenant de Vaisseau Le Henaff, which started a scheduled deployment in early March for Mission Corymbe, returned to France at the end of April because of the COVID-19 crisis, putting an end to the nearly permanent French Navy presence in the area.
Tonnerre was deployed in March to the Island of Corsica in a mission to evacuate several Coronavirus / COVID19 patients towards mainland France.