SINGAPORE: French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle berthed at Changi Naval Base on Tuesday (May 28) morning as part of a five-month deployment from its home port in Toulon, France.
Deployed with it is a carrier strike group comprising Rafale fighter jets, a naval multi-purpose helicopter and two Hawkeye early warning aircraft in its air wing, as well as multi-mission frigates, a command and supply ship, and a nuclear attack submarine.
The deployment, dubbed Mission Clemenceau, has taken the French strike group and its crew of 3,200 through the Mediterranean and Indian oceans - two of its areas of strategic interest.
During its time in Singapore, the French Navy will participate in bilateral exercises including an amphibious exercise with the Singapore Navy involving frigates, naval units as well as fighter jets from the Singapore Air Force.
This is the French aircraft carrier’s second time in Singapore after 17 years. Commander of the Charles de Gaulle and Task Force 473, Rear-Admiral Olivier Lebas noted that it was a testament to the relationship between the two countries, given how "both navies have regularly maintained strong links, illustrated by common exercises".
The carrier strike group arrived in Singapore ahead of the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security forum which French minister of armed forces, Florence Parly, is due to attend. The forum begins on Friday.
In March and April, the French strike group spent the first leg of its deployment in the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Separately, the French strike group also saw American, Danish, British, Portuguese and Australian allies participate in part of the Clemenceau deployment.
“This deployment is about strengthening, fostering exchanges with our strategic partners by developing strong links, common work habits, tactical cooperation and mutual knowledge which are essential to operational efficiency,” Commander Lebas said.
"Being deployed in the Indian Ocean and being here in Singapore today underlines France’s interest in these regions and in strengthening cooperation in partner navies."
On the homebound stretch of the carrier strike group’s journey, it will take part in bilateral exercises with the Egyptian army before heading back to Toulon.