The Mistral-class FS Tonnerre and La Fayette-class FS Surcouf docked in Kochi

Goodwill visit shows growth in mutual cooperation and jointmanship: MoD

Two ships of the French Navy paid a goodwill visit to Kochi on Monday, accompanied by dignitaries including the French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain as well as Rear Admiral Jacques Fayard, French Joint Forces Commander in the Indian Ocean (ALINDIEN) and Lise Talbot Barre, Consul General of France in Puducherry.

The 21,500 ton Mistral-class FS Tonnerre and 3,251 tonne La Fayette-class FS Surcouf ships arrived at Cochin Port Trust and were received by senior naval authorities and a naval band. The dignitaries then called upon Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral AK Chawla.

In a release, the Ministry of Defence said the visit pointed to the growth in mutual cooperation between the Indian and French Navies.

“During the recent past, there has been enhanced bilateral cooperation between India and France, especially in the domain of maritime security. Interactions between India and France have evolved into a strong partnership based on mutual aspirations. The regular conduct of bilateral exercises, goodwill visits by ships and high level delegation visits involving both the navies are indicative of growth in mutual cooperation and jointmanship,” the release said.

The ships are due to sail to the Bay of Bengal for the France-led 'La PĂ©rouse' joint exercise with QUAD members India, Japan, Australia and the US from April 5-7.

As per a now-defunct acquisition program by the Indian Navy, the Indian Navy Multi-Role Support Vessel program had shortlisted three landing helicopter dock platforms for a $2.6 billion tender, which included the French Mistral class, the Italian Multi-functional ship LHD and the Spanish Juan Carlos I class. The tender was later scrapped as the Navy felt its specifications were outdated.