French minister calls it "a striking proof of the capacity of our French Navy to deploy far and for a long time in connection with our Australian, American and Japanese strategic partners".
On Monday night, Florence Parly shed some light on the current deployment of Rubis-class SSN Emeraude to the Pacific region. In a series of messages on Twitter, the minister said:
“Mission Marianne: since September, a nuclear attack submarine (SSN Émeraude) and a support vessel (BSAM Seine) have sailed up to 15,000 km from the coasts of mainland France in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. This extraordinary patrol has just completed a passage in the South China Sea. A striking proof of the capacity of our French Navy to deploy far and for a long time in connection with our Australian, American and Japanese strategic partners. Why such a mission? To enrich our knowledge of this area and to affirm that international law is the only rule that is valid, whatever the sea in which we sail. Nation of the Indo-Pacific (~ 2 million inhabitants), France has the 2nd largest exclusive economic zone in the world (11 million km2 of which 9 are in the Indo-Pacific). We intend to protect our sovereignty and our interests.”
Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces
For the record, we first reported about Emeraude’s mission to the Pacific when it stopped over in Australia. The submarine then visited the U.S. naval base in Guam and participated in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise with the U.S. Navy and JMSDF. Following it exercise with the Indoensian Navy (see below) Emeraude will likely be joining the French carrier strike group which is set to depart this week for the Indian Ocean and Persian/Arabian Gulf area.
Exercise with Indonesian Navy (TNI AL)
On the same day as Parly’s message, the Indonesia Navy (TNI AL) announced that it has conducted a joint exercise with the French Navy in the Sunda Strait. Commander of Indonesian vessel KRI Barakuda-633, Marine Major (P) Faisal Yanova Tanjung, SE, M.Tr.Opsla said “the exercise involved 3 Indonesian and 2 French Warships, the ships namely KRI Barakuda (633), KRI Tenggiri (865), KRI Cakalang (852) and 2 French Warships, the frigate FS Vendemiaire and the submarine FS Emeraude “.
Chief of Fleet Command I Rear Admiral Abdul Rasyid said the naval exercise also serves as military diplomacy. “We hope it will strengthen our international relations,” said Rasyid.
The Indo-Pacific region: a priority for France
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 “Mission Marianne” 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.
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.