In a series of messages on Twitter, the French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly shed some light on the current deployment of the French Navy’s nuclear attack submarine Rubis-class SSN in the South China Sea.
In the tweet, Parly said, “For the record, we first reported about Emeraude’s mission to the Pacific when it stopped over in Australia. The submarine then visited the U.S. naval base in Guam and participated in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise with the U.S. Navy and JMSDF. Following it exercise with the Indonesian Navy (see below) Emeraude will likely be joining the French carrier strike group which is set to depart this week for the Indian Ocean and Persian/Arabian Gulf area.”
On the same day of the message, the Indonesia Navy (TNI AL) also made an announcement that it had conducted a joint exercise with the French Navy in the Sunda Strait.
In a statement, Commander of Indonesian vessel KRI Barakuda-633, Marine Major (P) Faisal Yanova Tanjung, SE, M.Tr.Opsla said “the exercise involved 3 Indonesian and 2 French Warships, the ships namely KRI Barakuda (633), KRI Tenggiri (865), KRI Cakalang (852) and 2 French Warships, the frigate FS Vendemiaire and the submarine FS Emeraude “.
“We hope it will strengthen our international relations,” said Chief of Fleet Command I Rear Admiral Abdul Rasyid in reference to the naval exercise while adding that it “also serves as military diplomacy.”
Indo-Pacific region a priority for France
Although in the past, such deployments were rare, France is increasing its focus on the region and the deployment of its naval assets underscores its strategic pivot to the Indo-Pacific region.
It is to be noted that “Mission Marianne” was never publicly disclosed prior to the port of call in Australia.
It may have been disclosed on public domain to show that while the Rubis-class SSN is ageing, it is still capable of long duration deployments.
France is gradually replacing Rubis-class SSNs with the new Suffren-class SSN over the coming decade.
France maintains a presence in the region vide its overseas territories including La Réunion islands, Mayotte, Scattered Islands, Antarctic Territories, French Southern and New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis, Futuna, and Clipperton. Nearly 93% of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The region is also home to 1.5 million French people with Paris stationing 8,000 troops armed forces in the locality.
The French Naval vessels also routinely deploy in the region, including submarines as is currently the case.