Two warships of the French Navy, amphibious helicopter carrier FS DIXMUDE, and the frigate LA FAYETTE are visiting Kochi between March 6 and 10 on the occasion of India and France celebrating the 25th anniversary of their strategic partnership.

Nearly 800 sailors and soldiers, including 160 officer cadets, as well as an Army embarked tactical group (GTE) are embarked on the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) Dixmude and the frigate LaFayette as part of the annual ‘Jeanne d’Arc mission’, a long-duration deployment to provide ‘at-sea’ training to officer cadets.

The mission also involves strengthening synergies with the Indian Navy through official talks and friendly sporting activities, according to a release from the Consulate General of France in Pondicherry.

The LHD is a multirole vessel capable of deploying combat and transport helicopters as well as landing craft, besides providing disaster relief and assistance. The vessel can also work as a medical facility equivalent to a “French hospital for a city of 30,000 inhabitants”.

“The stopover in India is part of the Franco-Indian strategy for the stability of the Indo-Pacific zone, which is essential for international security. This area, which includes three oceans and 60% of the world’s population, is subject to various types of threats and tensions, ranging from territorial claims to natural disasters due to climate change, through illicit trafficking and illegal fishing. France, through its status as a development partner of ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and a member of IONS [Indian Ocean Naval Symposium], shares with India its desire to guarantee respect for international law, to contribute to the stability and security of the region, and to lend assistance to populations in distress,” the release said.