Answering a question by senator Olivier Cadic (“Are we going to send signs to the Taiwanese to contribute to the defense of this space as a space of right ?”) Florence Parly replied:
“What are we doing? We show our attachment to international law and freedom of movement, including with the means of the French Navy. This is reflected by the presence of naval vessels such as the Dupuy de Lôme in the Fomorsa Strait”
No date was provided by Minister Parly on when the transit took place. The 3,600 tons AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence) vessel deployed to the Pacific area in May, called in Guam in August and was spotted departing Japan on October 1st 2021.
Parly’s announcement comes in the context of a recent five-day visit to Taiwan by a delegation of French senators.
Naval News contacted Antoine Bondaz, Research Fellow and Director of the Taiwan Program at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (the main French center of expertise on international security and defense issues) to shed light on the significance of the event:
Naval News: How significant is this announcement in the current context ?
Antoine Bondaz: This announcement is obviously significant for at least two reasons. The first is that in the context of AUKUS, this demonstrates the coherence and consistency of France’s Indo-Pacific strategy, and more particularly that of the armed forces. The second is that despite Chinese threats and intimidation in the Strait and also with regard to our parliamentarians, France is staying the course in defending its interests and in particular the freedom of navigation in this region.
Beyond that, I do not think the objectives of the Ministry of the Armed Forces was to communicate very widely on the passage of this ship. But mentioning it publicly at the end of the hearing remains a clear and important message.
Naval News: Previous French Navy transits of the Taiwan strait were conducted almost exclusively by Floreal-class light frigates. Does the fact that this time an AGI (intelligence gathering vessel) was involved changes anything ?
Antoine Bondaz: That an AGI sailed through the Strait doesn’t change everything. This same ship was already off the Chinese coast at the beginning of June. What is important is that this demonstrates the will of the French Navy to strengthen cooperation and interactions with regional partners, such as Japan, and to be more proactive in the face of increased risks posed by both Russia and China in the region. Also, that France intends to demonstrate that it is an important player in terms of security in the Indo-Pacific, unlike other European countries, and that for obvious reasons.
France, a country in the Indo-Pacific (by its territories, its EEZ of 9 million km² and its population of more than more than 1.5 million nationals), plays a major role in terms of security and stability in the area, including thanks to the permanent presence of the French Navy there.
About Dupuy de Lôme SIGINT ship
The Dupuy de Lôme was built in the Netherlands by the Royal Niestern Sander shipyard and launched at the end of March 2004. As part of the MINREM (Moyen Interarmées Naval de Recherche Electromagnétique) program, the vessel was commissioned with the French Navy on 1 July 2006. Designed and optimized to meet the at-sea SIGINT requirements, the Dupuy de Lôme is used by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (French: Direction du renseignement militaire, DRM), the French equivalent to the American Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Its mission is to intercept and analyze radar, radio communication and satellite signals. Dupuy de Lôme is homeported in Brest.
- Length: 101,75 meters
- Width: 15,85 meters
- Draft: 4,91 meters
- Displacement: 3.100 tons (light) 3.600 tons (full)
- Range: 3.400 nautical miles at 16 knots
- Endurance: 30 days at sea
- crew: Dual crew system (70 sailors each)