French Navy frigate Prairial concludes Indo-Pacific mission
The French Navy frigate Prairial’s monthslong patrol and goodwill mission to the Indo-Pacific reinforced France’s commitment to regional security, freedom of navigation and the international rule of law.
The 94-meter, Floreal-class warship with about 100 personnel left Papeete, the capital of Tahiti in French Polynesia, on February 21, 2023, and was scheduled to return May 18. The frigate made port calls in Koror, Palau; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Incheon, South Korea; and Yokosuka, Japan, and rendezvoused with a Philippine Coast Guard ship off Agno, the Philippines. (Pictured: The French Navy frigate Prairial makes a call at the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka on April 21, 2023.)
The Prairial also participated in the Enforcement Coordination Cell, a multinational coalition that includes Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, with a mission of enforcing maritime sanctions against North Korea as defined by the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
France, whose seven Indo-Pacific territories are home to 1.6 million French citizens and 7,000 Soldiers, strives to preserve peace and security in the region, Catherine Colonna, its minister for Europe and foreign affairs, said at a reception in Incheon in mid-April. “The journey traveled by Prairial and its missions are a perfect illustration of this,” she said. “It began with a mission to combat illegal fishing for the Pacific Islands Forum. [The ship] conducted operations alongside the Philippine Coast Guard and the navy of our strategic partner, Vietnam. Next, it held a training course for the Royal Cambodian Navy, before reaching South Korea via the Taiwan Strait, through which it transited … in line with the law of the sea.”
France has a longstanding presence in the Indo-Pacific and routinely participates in multilateral military exercises.
The Prairial combats illegal fishing in the French territories’ exclusive economic zones and in international waters. It supports France’s commitment to regional security and defense, the economy, multilateralism, and sustainable ocean management. The frigate and its crew collaborate with the navies of Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, Japan and South Korea.
During its latest mission, the Prairial:
- Welcomed aboard Palauan dignitaries in Koror, according to the French Embassy in Micronesia and the Philippines.
- Made a port call at Guam.
- Participated in an offshore interoperability exercise with Philippine Coast Guard patrol vessel BRP Capones in late March, The Philippine Star newspaper reported.
- Docked in Sihanoukville in late March “to strengthen the bonds of friendship” between the French and Cambodian navies, The Phnom Penh Post newspaper said.
- Made a goodwill stop in Incheon in mid-April, The Korea Herald newspaper reported.
- Trained with a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force frigate near Yokohama Bay in late April, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.
“For France, the preservation of an Indo-Pacific area that is both free and open, prosperous and respectful of the global commons, involves both respecting the rule of law and seeking the most inclusive cooperation possible with all states,” Colonna said.
IMAGE CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES