The crew swap in Iceland allows the frigate to spend more time in the GIUK gap to detect and track submarines.
The event marked the first time that the French Navy’s Atlantic Fleet Command (CECLANT) swaps the crew of one of its ship in an area of operation. In August, a similar crew swap took place for FREMM frigate Languedoc in Abu Dhabi. The frigate was then taking part in operation AGENOR.
The French Navy adopted the dual crew concept for some of its surface vessel in 2019. The shift to a dual crew concept increased the operational availability of the Aquitaine-class FREMM: They are expected to be able to spend 50% more days at sea (FREMM frigate typically spent 110 days at sea before the adoption of the dual crew concept). Another benefit is that the crews are more rested, therefore more operationally efficient when going back to sea (and less prone to committing mistakes in their tasks).
Bretagne (with her A crew) was deployed in the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea since 19 October 2021. According to information obtained by Naval News, the main mission of Bretagne during this deployment is to monitor and track underwater activities around the GIUK gap where submarine presence is on the rise.
According to a French Navy statement, Bretagne‘s “B crew” was transferred to Iceland with French Air Force’s A400M and MRTT aircraft.
“The increasingly frequent deployments of our competitors lead to the reinforcement of the French presence by saving transit days from Brest and by allowing permanent deployment in the area”.