Under the Logistics Support Agreement between India and France, the French Navy’s anti-aircraft destroyer FNS Cassard has docked at the Mumbai docks. This Logistic Support agreement was inked between the two countries during the State visit of President Emmanuel Macron to India in March 2018.
One of the key agreements is a reciprocal logistics support deal between the respective armed forces of India and France. Described as a “golden step” by PM Modi, the deal will facilitate the French and Indian armed forces to receive logistical support, supplies and services from each other during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
France has specific interests in the Indian Ocean due to its overseas territories (Reunion Island and Mayotte) home to over a million French citizens, and its 2.8 million square kilometres of the exclusive economic zone, i.e. more than 10% of the Indian Ocean’s surface.
It thus deploys significant assets in the Indian Ocean, permanent ones at its Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Reunion Island and Mayotte military bases, or depending on requirement, as with its carrier strike group.
The Cassard-class destroyer last November successfully conducted a rescue mission when a tanker with an Indian crew was shipwrecked.
During the port call from Jan 24-29, the destroyer FNS Cassard will attend the visit of a European Union’s (EU) military delegation promoting the EU’s role in fighting piracy and in providing maritime security in the Indian Ocean through its renowned operation: EU NAVFOR (EU Naval Force).
The crew of the visiting destroyer will during its meeting with the EU’s military delegation highlight the longstanding support of French forces to EU NAVFOR, also called “Atalanta”, and to the EU’s operations in general. The Cassard will provide associated support to Atalanta shortly after this port call.
The European Union launched its first ever Naval Force; Operation ATALANTA under the Common Security and Defence Policy in Dec 2008. This was in response to the increasing number of piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia. Since then, Op ATALANTA has become a true success story of the European Union’s effort to deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia. And providing protection to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) vessels, which deliver aid to displaced persons in Somalia.
Last Dec 24-25, the Indian Navy escorted a WFP vessel in support of Operation Atalanta, a clear example of the Indian Navy and the EU working together to ensure safe, free, unhindered navigation around the Horn of Africa.
Both India and France share a commonality of interests. Both countries face the same challenges with the same values: freedom of navigation, fight against maritime piracy and are determined to foster economic cooperation as well as promote the fight against climate change.