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French, U.S. Navies Conclude Their Combined Operations

Published on 04 February 2014

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Gulf of Oman

French And American Flight-Deck Crew Members Talk During A Break
French And American Flight-Deck Crew Members Talk During A Break

The U.S. Navy’s Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and French Navy Task Force 473 concluded five weeks of combined carrier-strike-group operations on February 2.

The two strike groups began conducting integrated operations December 26 in the Gulf of Oman and have operated together in the northern Arabian Sea and the Arabian Gulf to enhance regional maritime security and stability.

Participating U.S. ships included aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, cruisers USS Gettysburg and USS San Jacinto, and destroyers USS Bulkeley and USS Mason. French ships included aircraft carrier and Task Force 473 flagship FS Charles de Gaulle, destroyers FS Forbin and FS Jean de Vienne, and replenishment oiler FS Meuse.

“We executed a wide array of operations together with the Charles de Gaulle strike group,” said Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney, commander of Carrier Strike Group 10. “We conducted combined flight operations from both the Truman and the Charles de Gaulle as well as carrier-landing qualifications on both aircraft carriers.”

Lieutenant Commander Rob Littman is a U.S. Navy pilot who had the opportunity to land on the Charles de Gaulle.

“Landing on the Charles De Gaulle was a terrific experience,” said Littman, an F/A-18 pilot. “It was remarkable how similar it was to landing on the Truman. The French were extremely professional and the transition was seamless.”

Captain Bob Roth, Truman’s commanding officer, said it was a unique experience being able to conduct flight operations with jets and pilots from the French carrier.

“Planning and conducting actual missions together in this region brought our two fighting units closer together,” Roth said. “Our carrier aviation cultures are very similar, so the mutual real-world missions were executed using familiar tactics, but with a unique mix of platforms. [U.S. aircraft] flew seamlessly from Charles de Gaulle, just as the Rafales and Super Etendards landed and launched effortlessly from Truman. We are a good team and I look forward to the next opportunity to operate with our trusted French allies.”

Sweeney said operations weren’t limited to the aircraft carriers.

“We conducted helicopter deck-landing qualifications on our smaller ships. We executed boarding exercises, live-fire gunnery exercises, air-defense exercises and combat-search-and-rescue training — all types of missions we could be called upon to do at any moment. We even executed what we call a ‘shotgun swap,’ which had the Forbin providing actual air-defense control for Truman and the Gettysburg providing the same defense for Charles de Gaulle.”

Sweeney said the combined operations not only improved interoperability between the French and U.S. navies, but they also provided reassurance to regional partners.

“These operations were designed to enhance our levels of cooperation and interoperability,” he said. “Just as importantly though, it helps promote long-term regional stability, and through our continuous presence, we build trust and confidence throughout the region.”

Personnel from most of the U.S. and French ships had the opportunity to visit other ships to meet with their counterparts and learn how they do their jobs on their respective ships.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Kathryn Bustos spent three days aboard the French carrier.

“The [French] sailor I was partnered with was the equivalent to a U.S. Navy electronics technician,” Bustos said. “We repaired hydra radios and headphones worn by French sailors on the flight deck and performed maintenance on other electronic equipment together.

“It was an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” she said. “I met people aboard Charles de Gaulle that I will keep in touch with even after our deployment and joint operations are finished. The French sailors were very welcoming and friendly.”

This article was originally published on the U.S. Navy website on February 2.


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Posted 2014-02-04 12:29:00