Written by Dean Wingrin
The French surveillance frigate ‚ÄúFlor√©al‚Äù will stop in Cape Town from 24 to 30 April as part of her mission in the waters of the French and Australian Southern and Antarctic Lands.
The frigate and her sister ships are regular visitors to South Africa – Flor√©al last visited Cape Town in April last year.
Having spent considerable time at sea, Flor√©al will use her time in Cape Town to perform maintenance and repair tasks, as well as to replenish consumables and food stocks.
Although the French Navy makes use of repair facilities in Durban and Mauritius, it is clear that Cape Town is the preferred destination.
FNS Flor√©al will be harboured at V&A Waterfront, Jetty 2, and will be open to the pubic on Saturday 28 April.
Commissioned in 1992, FNS Flor√©al (F730) is the lead ship of her class of six, all of which were built to be based in the French territories around the world, with Flor√©al home ported at the island of Reunion.
The frigate fulfils a large range of operational needs, patrolling overseas maritime areas under French sovereignty and in the deep sea to protect France‚Äôs interests. In this context, the Flor√©al carries out several tasks in the Indian Ocean, including anti-piracy missions, fishery protection, the control of illegal trafficking, maritime rescue operations and support to scientific missions in the French southern islands of Kergelen, Crozet and Saint-Paul.
In accordance with an agreement between Australia and France, Flor√©al performs cooperative fishing police and surveillance missions in the French and Australian Southern and Antarctic economic areas, recently having Australian fish inspectors on board.
Flor√©al also plays an important role in the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean, being part of the European Union Naval Force‚Äôs Operation Atalanta, thus contributing to weaken the piracy threat in the High Risk Area off the horn of Africa.
In 1993, she took part in United Nations operations in Somalia to protect Blue Helmets and she also partook in the capture of Bob Denard in the Comoros during 1995.
With a crew of 99 seamen, Flor√©al displaces 2 950 tons. She is fitted with anti-surface Exocet missiles, one 100 mm multipurpose gun as well as two 20 mm multipurpose guns and four 12.7 mm Browning machineguns. A Eurocopter AS 565 Panther helicopter is also operated from the vessel.
Commander Eric Caliendo has been the commanding officer of the Flor√©al since 2012 and was previously appointed onboard the stealth frigate ‚ÄúLa Fayette‚Äù.