Joining the USS Boxer and the FS Charles de Gaulle in conducting the drills late last week were French anti-submarine destroyer FS Latouche Treville, anti-submarine frigate FS Provence (D 652) and underway replenishment tanker FS Marne.
Building on the inaugural, multilateral exercise La Perouse from last month, the drills included formation sailing, combined flight operations and personnel transfers.
The French Navy carrier strike group deployment marked the first in the Indo-Pacific region since 2002.
The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) team is currently deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies, and maintain a forward presence postured to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations.
At present, headquartered in Yokosuka, in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, the US 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed US fleets, with 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Its principal responsibilities are to provide joint command in natural disaster or military operations and operational command of all naval forces in the region.
“The opportunity to train with the French navy demonstrates the ARG’s capability to operate with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific. Our sailors and marines benefitted greatly from working with our French counterparts,” said ARG Commodore Capt Brad Arthur.
Events like this occur routinely throughout the Indo-Pacific and reflect shared values, principles and traditions between like-minded naval forces, the US Navy stated in its report of the exercises. (See story here.)
“Exercises allow allied units to test and validate concepts, procedures, systems and tactics,” said French Rear-Admiral Marc Aussedat, Commanding Officer of Task Force 473.
“That is why we seize each opportunity to plan exercises at sea with our allies and partners to increase our mutual knowledge and ability to work together.”
“The American and French militaries have a long and successful relationship after many years of working together and we’re honored to add a chapter to that history,” said Col Fridrik Fridriksson, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Additionally, the USS Boxer hosted distinguished visitors to tour the ship and learn more about the Boxer ARG and embarked Marines from the 11th MEU.
“I am excited to work with America’s oldest ally, dating back to America’s revolutionary war.” said Capt Ronald Dowdell, USS Boxer’s commanding officer.
“Our countries have shared success throughout the decades and a good part of that success is due to our strong relationship. Today, we’re enhancing that relationship by stressing integration of our systems and capabilities.”
The port visit to Phuket is a chance for sailors and marines to relax and enjoy Thailand’s culture, cuisine and tropical beaches while fostering relationships between the two nations, the US Navy noted in its release.
“Our visit is an opportunity for the ship to replenish supplies, and an important relationship-strengthening opportunity with Thailand,” said USS Boxer’s Capt Ronald Dowdell.
“Sailors have an opportunity to get some well-deserved rest and enjoy the vibrant culture as they continue deployment."
“During the visit, Boxer sailors and marines will experience Thai culture through the ship’s morale welfare and recreation department, which is offering 27 tours, highlighting the country's culture and landscape,” said Maleka Lipscomb, Boxer’s afloat recreation specialist.
"We’re offering a variety of tours, which will allow the crew to experience Thailand,” she said.
"Experiencing Thailand is an opportunity most do not get every day, so we really aim to help everyone make the most of it," she added.