ABU DHABI: The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday as part of a deployment to “demonstrate freedom of navigation” in the region’s waters.
The flagship of the French Navy docked at Mina Zayed port along with its strike group of three frigates, a submarine and a refueling vessel.
Its arrival in the UAE capital is part of a four-month deployment through the Eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf called “Clemenceau 21.” which includes operations with the coalition against Daesh.
The ship has been accompanied by frigates from Greece and Belgian and the US Navy destroyer USS Porter.
“The main mission of the deployment, Clemenceau 21 is the fight against terrorism, against Daesh,” Rear Admiral Marc Aussedat said. “We’re also deployed within the strategic areas where the French interests, European interests, allied interests are at stake and it’s a tool to disseminate stability and remind everybody the of the importance of freedom of navigation, and freedom of action from the sea.”
Iran and its proxies have been accused of a series of attacks against shipping in some of the world’s busiest maritime routes around the Arabian Peninsula.
The Charles de Gaulle, which is carrying 20 Rafale Marine fighter jets and two E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft, will stay in Abu Dhabi until Wednesday.
Since leaving its base in Toulon last month it has taken part in a number of exercises including joint drills with the US, Japan and Greece in the Arabian Sea this week.
Next month, the aircraft carrier will take part in exercises with India and the UAE before returning to the Eastern Mediterranean to continue its work with the anti-Daesh coalition.
Guillaume Pinget, commanding officer of Charles de Gaulle, said the stop in Abu Dhabi allowed crews to rest and reconnect with family and friends after 40 days at sea.
“Stopping in Abu Dhabi is an opportunity to conduct logistic operations and to carry out maintenance work on the ship,” he said.