The French Navy is in town

Jan 29, 2003
Author: P&S

Two ships of the French Navy arrived in Durban this week for a three-week layover at Salisbury Island Naval Station (Durban). They are the naval repair ship FNS Garrone (A617), which arrived from Madagascar yesterday (Tuesday, 28 January 2003) and the small patrol frigate FNS Nivose (F732) which has come from La Reunion. A cocktail function for navy officers and dignitaries is being held on board Nivose this evening.

FNS Garrone carries a crew of 114 and displaces 2,320 tonnes fully loaded. The ship was built in 1965 for overseas service and is homeported at La Reunion. Measuring 101.5m long with a beam of 13.8m, her propulsion comes from four diesel engines producing 3,600 bhp and driving two shafts for a speed of 15 knots. Armament is light, consisting of a 40mm and two 20mm guns.

FNS Nivose is one of six ships of the Floreal class small patrol frigates built to commercial standards (i.e. inexpensive to operate) and well suited for overseas patrol duties among French dependencies, where much of her work consists of sea fishery patrol – perhaps an ideal example of what the South African Navy might have obtained at far less cost instead of the highly sophisticated and expensive Meko class frigates due for delivery from Germany starting this year.

Nivose is armed with two Exocet SSM launchers, a 100mm DP and two 20mm guns and has a complement of eighty. She has an aft helicopter deck and hangar for one Panther helicopter and can carry up to 24 special forces personnel in addition to the ship’s company. Nivose was built in 1992.

Meanwhile, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Grey Rover (A269), which arrived in port a week ago for an eleven-day stopover, moved across from the Point berth to Salisbury Island for security reasons.

Having three naval ships together on the island, with the original strike craft SAS Jan Smuts raised on the syncrolift makes for an impressive sight.

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