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French Navy with 400 Crew Visit Dublin on Extended Shore Leave

23rd April 2016
French Navy 'Durance' class auxiliary replenishment tanker Var is visiting Dublin Port along with destoyer Cassard French Navy 'Durance' class auxiliary replenishment tanker Var is visiting Dublin Port along with destoyer Cassard Photo: French Navy

#ExtendedVisit – Almost 400 visiting crew members from a pair of French Navy vessels that docked in Dublin Port as reported yesterday, will remain berthed in the capital on extended shore leave up to next Thursday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The naval vessels are a destroyer and an auxiliary replenishment tanker and will not be open to public unlike the NATO flotilla that called to the capital earlier this month.

Normally such visits are confined over a weekend, but on this occasion the call to the capital involves an extended leave during the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising that begins tomorrow.   

The F70 AA or ‘Cassard’ Class leadship Cassard (D 614) one of two sisters, are guided-missile destroyers despite the French Navy that designate them as frigates. The 5,000 deadweight replacement tonnes destroyer has a crew of 230 and was joined yesterday lunchtime by ‘Durance’ class replenishment tanker Var (A 608) with a crew of 150.

The destroyer docked within Alexandra Basin located in the centre of the port while downriver at Ocean Pier is where the 18,000 tonnes displacement at full load tanker berthed.

Cassard was launched in 1985 and three years later was commissioned into service. The 139m long frigate has a top speed of 30 knots. Main armament consists of Mistral and Exocet missiles. A hanger is where Panther type helicopters provide additional capabilities for the Cassard class.

Replenishment auxiliary tanker Var was launched in Brest in 1981 and two years later entered service. The 157m long tanker can achieve a more modest 19 knots and has a range of defence equipment among them a pair of 20 mm Oerlikon guns.

Likewise of the destroyer, Var can handle a Panther helicopter along with a variety of other such aircraft, among the examples are the Dauphin, Cougar, Gazelle and Puma.

Published in Naval Visits
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Naval Visits focuses on forthcoming courtesy visits by foreign navies from our nearest neighbours, to navies from European Union and perhaps even those navies from far-flung distant shores.

In covering these Naval Visits, the range of nationality arising from these vessels can also be broad in terms of the variety of ships docking in our ports.

The list of naval ship types is long and they perform many tasks. These naval ships can include coastal patrol vessels, mine-sweepers, mine-hunters, frigates, destroyers, amphibious dock-landing vessels, helicopter-carriers, submarine support ships and the rarer sighting of submarines.

When Naval Visits are made, it is those that are open to the public to come on board, provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate up close and personal, what these look like and what they can do and a chance to discuss with the crew.

It can make even more interesting for visitors when a flotilla arrives, particularly comprising an international fleet, adding to the sense of curiosity and adding a greater mix to the type of vessels boarded.

All of this makes Naval Visits a fascinating and intriguing insight into the role of navies from abroad, as they spend time in our ports, mostly for a weekend-long call, having completed exercises at sea.

These naval exercises can involve joint co-operation between other naval fleets off Ireland, in the approaches of the Atlantic, and way offshore of the coasts of western European countries.

In certain circumstances, Naval Visits involve vessels which are making repositioning voyages over long distances between continents, having completed a tour of duty in zones of conflict.

Joint naval fleet exercises bring an increased integration of navies within Europe and beyond. These exercises improve greater co-operation at EU level but also internationally, not just on a political front, but these exercises enable shared training skills in carrying out naval skills and also knowledge.

Naval Visits are also reciprocal, in that the Irish Naval Service, has over the decades, visited major gatherings overseas, while also carrying out specific operations on many fronts.

Ireland can, therefore, be represented through these ships that also act as floating ambassadorial platforms, supporting our national interests.

These interests are not exclusively political in terms of foreign policy, through humanitarian commitments, but are also to assist existing trade and tourism links and also develop further.

Equally important is our relationship with the Irish diaspora, and to share this sense of identity with the rest of the World.

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