Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU4) Sailors trained with the crew of French projection and command ship (BPC) FS Mistral (L9013) Jan. 24-25, to certify the ship’s well deck for operations with the U.S. Navy’s landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) in preparation for Bold Alligator 2012.
“We have worked with the French navy not only here, but also in Toulon, France, to ensure our landing craft and the Mistral’s well deck are compatible,” said Capt. Mike Ott, ACU4 commanding officer. “This exercise today is the culmination of that planning and work we did overseas.”
FS Mistral typically works with displacement crafts, and not American LCACs. There are many challenges to face in the adaptation of a new craft into the well deck including how the well deck accepts the new craft; the level of water required for the different crafts; how to handle lines; along with the loading and unloading, both on board and on the beach.
“This provides the opportunity to ensure that both the French and U.S. sailors understand differences in the crafts and can adapt correctly to them, so we can execute any mission safely,” said Ott. “It is critical that we are able to conduct these operations, so that at any time and place in the world we could join forces with our French allies for any operation, such as Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, with little warning and little preparation and be 100 percent combat ready in a very short time.”
The two-day training evolution, held off the coast of Virginia, not only strengthens interoperability between the two navies, it serves as a rehearsal for operations slated during the upcoming Bold Alligator 2012, which begins next week.
“The biggest benefit of this operation is working together to bring military power from the sea to the land whether by air or with amphibious crafts,” said Capt. Xavier Moreau, FS Mistral commanding officer. “It is impossible for one navy to do everything and be everywhere by itself. While working in coalitions, each navy brings different equipment which increases assets such as carriers, amphibious ships, frigates and aircraft.
The first day of operations focused on certifying the crew and ship to receive and operate LCACs. Second-day activities addressed outstanding certification requirements and the dress rehearsal which included numerous LCAC trips ashore from Mistral.
“The French Navy and the U.S. Navy must be able to work together using our different equipment,” added Moreau. “It is very important to our navy, and we are happy to be here for this exercise.”