In this file photo, the French Marine Nationale aircraft carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91) transits the Red Sea, April 15, 2019. The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (Photo by Seaman Joshua Leonard)
GULF OF BENGAL -- Ships from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and U.S. Navy commenced drills with French Navy aircraft carrier, FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) and its escort ships while sailing through the Gulf of Bengal, May 16.
Named after an 18th century French Naval Officer and explorer, La Perouse reflects longstanding values and a shared commitment to maritime security by all four sea services.
“La Perouse is an opportunity to develop strong links, work habits and mutual knowledge essential for best practices between our navies operating in the same regions of interest,” said Rear Adm. Olivier Lebas, commanding officer, French Carrier Strike Group.
“These exercises reflect our common involvement in maritime security in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific area.”
During the drills, the ships practiced formation sailing, live fires, communications, search and rescue, damage control, and personnel transfers.
“La Perouse shows that our maritime forces can work together well anywhere in the Indo-Pacific,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander of U.S. Seventh Fleet. “It reflects our shared values, traditions and bonds as like-minded sea services.”
Joining Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group were U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), a Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Toowoomba (FFH 156), submarine HMAS Collins (SSG 73), and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force helicopter-destroyer, JS Izumo (DDH 183) and destroyer JS Murasame (DD 101).
“The inclusion of an Australian frigate and submarine with a French lead multinational Carrier Task Group provides a positive example of the cooperative relationship our Navies enjoy,” said Rear Adm. Jonathan Mead, commander, Australian Fleet. “This activity demonstrates Navy’s capability in operating with our regional partners, highlighting the importance of interoperability in promoting stability and security.”
Events like this provide opportunities for like-minded maritime forces to train together and promote maritime cooperation throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“The Japan-France-Australia-US multilateral exercise is a great experience. I am looking forward to working with high-end navies together and will improve tactical skills and partnerships,” said Rear Adm. Hiroshi Egawa, commander, Escort Flotilla 1. “I believe this exercise will contribute to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”
These events follow the combined anti-submarine warfare exercise that concluded May 14, which included the Virginia-class submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) which joined forces with Charles de Gaulle (R 91), F70AA-class air defense destroyer FS Forbin (D 620), Durance-class tanker FS Marne (A 630), F-70 type anti-submarine vessels FS Latouche-Treville (D 646) and FS Provence (D 652) in the Indian Ocean.
The exercise, comprised of multiple anti-submarine warfare (ASW) drills, was designed to enhance unit-level training, improve the strike group’s ability to respond to a submarine threat, and enhance interoperability between the U.S. and French navies.
“My crew and I enjoyed the opportunity to tactically employ Hawaii with the Charles de Gaulle Strike Group in the Indian Ocean. The exercise allowed my team to test itself against their highly proficient crews manning capable modern surface warships and helicopters. We sharpened our warfighting skills and strengthened our joint partnerships in the Indo-Pacific AOR,” said Cmdr. Sterling S. Jordan, commanding officer, USS Hawaii. “I’m proud of Hawaii and the dedication of the crew day in and day out.”
U.S. 7th Fleet provides security alongside allies and partners throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific. As the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet operates roughly 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors.