According to the Maritime Prefecture of the Mediterranean (Préfecture Maritime de la Méditerranée), the flagship of the French Navy (Marine Nationale), aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, was at sea for training off Toulon naval base when the collision occurred with a 10 meters-long sailboat flying the flag of Poland:
While on a training sortie off Toulon, the Charles de Gaulle was late to detect a ten-metre sailing boat (flying a Polish flag) at a very short distance, shortly before 07:30 AM. In spite of an emergency maneuver to avoid this sailboat and in the absence of reaction from the latter, a collision occurred around 07:30 AM between the sailboat and the hull of the Charles de Gaulle.
Several actions were undertaken in order to rescue possible victims on board the sailboat: a radio contact was established with the skipper and an assistance team was sent by the Charles de Gaulle to the sailboat. These actions confirmed that there was only a single person aboard the sailboat and the sailboat was not taking water (damages were limited to the loss of the mast during the collision).
Two boats from the Charles de Gaulle were used to secure the sailboat and prepare its towing, in difficult weather conditions (sea state 4, 25 knots of wind).
At the same time the Mediterranean Operations Centre located in Toulon ordered the diversion of a tugboat in order to tow the sailboat to the port of Hyères. A technical investigation is underway, as is systematically done after an incident at sea involving a French Navy vessel. This collision has no impact on the training activities of the Charles de Gaulle.
For the record, the aircraft carrier is set take part next week in the advanced exercise “POLARIS”: It will place the Charles de Gaulle and French carrier strike group in a high-intensity combat preparation scenario. The large scale exercise will involve the French Army and French Air Force, as well as nearly 50% of the first rank (front line) surface combatants of the French Navy and some foreign ships. A French Navy spokesperson confirmed to Naval News that POLARIS will be the largest exercise in the history of the French Navy.