French carrier strike group, led by FS Charles de Gaulle has returned to its homeport of Toulon after nearly four months of deployment on its “CLEMENCEAU 21” mission that started on 21 February 2021.
Conducted under the COVID-19 pandemic, Clemenceau 21 deployment demonstrates the resilience of the Allied nations and their ability to uphold the collective commitment to conduct operations while mitigating threats, NATO Maritime Command stated in a press release.
The multinational character of Clemenceau 21 highlights the operational benefits of being part of a carrier strike group as well as the cohesion between Allied nations. Aggregator of Allied assets, the French carrier strike group had integrated within its escort six vessels of the US Navy (USS Thomas Hudner, Donald Cook, Laboon, Mahan, Port Royal, Monterey), the Belgian Navy frigate Léopold 1st, two frigates of the Hellenic Navy Kanaris and Salamis as well as Italian frigate Margottini.
During its 2021 deployment, the French carrier strike group sailed approximately 27,000 nautical miles, with its primary operational objective of supporting the fight against terrorism in the Levant. Between the Arabian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean, the Group spent fifty days within the coalition, carrying out over the Iraqi-Syrian theatre no less than 142 flights from Charles de Gaulle. The freedom of navigation offered the Group the freedom of action and flexibility to operate from the best-placed area.
Thus, the Group for the first time projected its aircraft from the Red Sea, opening up a route of intervention into the Iraqi-Syrian theatre and showcasing its ability to project power over large distances. Although completed under national command, the French mission is a major contribution to the fight against terrorism and the defence of the Alliance.
The aircraft carrier took multiple opportunities to interact with Allied and partner nations while at sea during its deployment. The latest exercise “Gallic Strike” conducted with the British carrier strike group in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrated maritime air power and high-end warfighting capabilities at sea.
Several Allied aircraft carriers, under national command, are deploying into SACEUR area of responsibility during these months, demonstrating Allied unity and commitment to effectively deliver multi-domain effects. The carrier strike activity demonstrates power projection over large distances with its unparalleled combat capability, and are a critical element of NATO deterrence.
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