As part of the “Clemenceau 21” mission, the carrier strike group (CSG) is deploying for several months to the Mediterranean Sea, then to the Indian Ocean and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Its main focus will be the fight against terrorism.
Mission “Clemenceau 21” follows on from a similar deployment which took place in 2019. According to the French Navy, the major cooperation exercises which took place in 2019 will be executed again during the 2021 edition of Clemenceau. The program also demonstrates contiuty with the 2019 mission. The CSG will take a similar path (Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Read Sea, Indian Ocean) and will pursue the same objectives of security and defence of freedom of action in these strategic areas and the same dynamic of cooperation with the allies of the Indo-Pacific region (Japanese, Australian and India).
For the record, a French amphibious group (“Jeanne d’Arc 21”) also departed last week and the two group (ARG and CSG) will follow the same path in the initial phase of their respective deployment.
The CSG is set to be back in Toulon in June.
Deployment in areas of strategic interest
With mission Clemenceau 21, the French Navy is deploying a versatile and relevant military presence in areas of strategic interest: The Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Strategically pre-positioned, the carrier strike group offers a capacity for graduated action at any time, from simple deterrent presence to deep strikes, according to the demands of the political and military authorities.
Combining means of surveillance, protection and intervention, France strives to maintain its autonomous capacity for situational assessment and to reduce destabilizing and risk factors, thus contributing to the preservation of free movement and maintaining geopolitical stability.
The Mediterranean occupies a strategic location: 25% of the world’s maritime flows sailrs through it. Projecting the CSG in this area of tension makes it possible to position a naval aviation force for surveillance, autonomous situational assessment and intervention, ready to act depending on operational needs and according to the directives of the political power. Since 2011, the French Navy has ensured a permanent French Naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and thus participates in monitoring the situation in the Middle East.
Securing the Persian Gulf, which constitutes a strategic area because it is surrounded by vital nerve points for the world economy (Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, Suez), is the subject of constant attention by France and its allies, as illustrates operation Agenor.
The presence of the carrier strike group and the regular deployment of naval assets within this tense and contested area help to ensure the safety and freedom of action. At the same time, the fight against terrorism is a major issue in this area. The CSG is deploying its resources to fight islamist jihadism there, which represents a major threat to Europe, France and its allies.
The Indian Ocean is the gateway for 25% of the world trade and 75% of EU exports. France is the only European country to have a permanent military presence in the Indian Ocean. French Navy ships contribute to the stabilization and protection of national interests. This deployment will strengthen France’s connections with its strategic partners in the area, by developing strong relationships and working habits and by promoting mutual knowledge.
French CSG composition
Mission “Clemenceau 21” is the French carrier strike group’s 13th deployment since 2001. It once again deployed as part of FRMARFOR (French Maritime Force) and NATO Task Force 473. The CSG is composed of:
- Aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its airwing,
- multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Auvergne,
- multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Provence,
- air defense destroyer Chevalier Paul,
- the command and refueling vessel (BCR) Var,
- a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN).
Allied escort vessels that will join the CSG are:
- Belgian Navy Karel Doorman-class Frigate Leopold I
- Hellenic Navy Spetsai-class frigate Kanaris
- US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Porter
Charles de Gaulle’s airwing composition:
- 20x Rafale Marine fighters
- 2x E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft
- 2x Dauphin SAR helicopters
- 1x Caïman Marine (NH90 NFH) maritime helicopter