According to a tweet shared by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), an exercise involving Emeraude, first-in-class helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John Mc Cain and a P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) took place from December 15 to 17 near the island of Okinotorishima, in the Philippine Sea:
This was, to our knowledge, the first time ever that a French Navy (Marine Nationale) SSN trained with the JMSDF.
“These interactions enable France to increase the cooperation with its main strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific region. The aim is to develop and maintain strong ties, working habits and mutual knowledge that are essential to the effectiveness of our action in these maritime areas of strategic interest.”
French Navy statement via Twitter
French submarine Emeraude also trained with the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet’s Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Asheville (SSN 758), according to this story published on 18 December.
Émeraude and the Loire-class support and assistance vessel (BSAM type) FS Seine are on a scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. Asheville and Émeraude used the opportunity to practice high-end maritime skills over the course of several days in a multitude of disciplines designed to enhance interoperability between maritime forces.
“The opportunity to tactically employ the boat in a multilateral exercise was beneficial to our overall training for forward deployed operations in the Indo-Pacific AOR. Exercises of this nature emphasize the importance of interoperability and improve our warfighting skills.”
aid Cmdr. Thomas Bullock, commanding officer of Asheville
“It is important to leverage our strong strategic partnerships in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific area, especially in these challenging times, when maritime security is threatened by transnational health and political crises. The willingness of both the U.S. Navy and JMSDF to conduct anti-surface and anti-submarine exercises with us is a positive example of the cooperative relationship our navies enjoy.”
Émeraude’s commanding officer
For the record, Emeraude and Loire-Class support & assistance vessel (BSAM type) Seine reached the US Navy base of Guam on 30 November. The two vessels previously stopped in Australia, and conducted some exercises with the Royal Australian Navy.
This is not the first time a French SSN deploys to the Pacific Ocean but such events are rather rare. It has to be noted that this deployment was never publicly disclosed prior to the port of call in Australia. It shows that the ageing Rubis-class SSN is still capable of long distance and long duration deployments. The Rubis-class will be gradually replaced by the new Suffren-class SSN over the coming decade.
The Indo-Pacific region: a priority for France
France is present in the region via its overseas territories (Mayotte and La Réunion islands, Scattered Islands and French Southern and Antarctic Territories, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia and Clipperton) and 93% of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The region is home to 1.5 million French people, as well as 8,000 armed forces personnel stationed in the region. In addition to the French Navy has vessels based in the region and assets from mainland France do deploy to the region, including submarines as is currently the case with the submarine in Guam.