European Vessels Engage in Operation Against Piracy
Since April 2013, the Jeanne d'Arc group, composed of the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) Tonnerre, the Antisubmarine Frigate (ASF) Georges Leygues, the Light Surveillance Frigate (LSF) Nivôse, and the Off-Shore Patrol Vessel (OSV) Adroitare, have been engaged in the European operation against piracy christened Atalanta.
The French ships and the four Swedish, German, Spanish and Dutch ships are deployed under the authority of European military staff aboard the Portuguese Guided Missile Frigate NRP Alvares Cabral.
Cadets are continuing their practical training in a real operational situation onboard the LHD.
The Tonnerre has an onboard protection team (OPT) constituted of a dozen Estonian soldiers who joined the crew at Djibouti and who will be on-board for a month. Estonia has participated in the operation since 2011 by providing an onboard protection team for a French ship on mission in the Indian Ocean. This team can be implemented at any time on a civilian ship to protect it during its transit through sensitive areas around the Horn of Africa.
Alongside one National Marine Alouette III, there are two Army Gazelle helicopters and one Puma helicopter aboard the Tonnerre. An Airmobile Forward Support Detachment of a dozen soldiers boarded at Djibouti to advise the Commander of the Amphibious Task Group composed of the Tonnerre and the Georges Leygues on the best strategy to adopt for Atalanta airmobile operations. This detachment belongs to the airmobile division of the Ground Forces Command (Helicopter strike group) engaged in mission Atalanta.
Operation Atalanta's mission is to escort World Food Program (WFP) ships, participate in maritime traffic safety, contribute to the prevention and repression of acts of piracy on the Somalian coast, and be a deterrent. France participates in Operation Atalanta through the permanent deployment of at least one National Marine Frigate that can occasionally be supported by a maritime patrol aircraft, generally an Atlantique 2 (ATL 2), a Falcon 50, or an Awacs.