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Floréal

The Floréal Class Frigates entered French Navy service in the early 1990's.

The first of the French Floréal Class patrol frigate of 2600 tons displacement, was launched in 1991. They are officially described as 'Frégates de Surveillance,' (surveillance frigate) and are designed to operate in the offshore zone in low intensity operations.

Floréal-class Frigates surveillance frigates answer the specific needs of controlling remote maritime areas over which France extends its sovereignty and responding to limited crises zones. As a result, they are mainly tasked with humanitarian, diplomatic or maritime law-enforcement duties and are capable of assuming the following missions:

  • extended at-sea deployments with the ability to monitor, collect intelligence or oppose disruptive adversaries;
  • at-sea navigation policing and fishing surveillance in exclusive economic zone (EEZ)
  • debarkation of intervention units
  • evacuation of nationals

The mix of equipment, including an embarked helicopter, and weapons make surveillance frigates optimally-configured tools to to strengthen France's overseas presence.

Floréal-class frigates were built according to Veritas commercial standards at the Chantiers de L'Atlantique at Saint-Nazaire, with military equipment subsequently added by the DCN Lorient. They have a service life expectancy of 30 years.

A Floréal frigate was powered by SEMT-Pielstick 6PA 6L280 diesels rated at 8800 hp providing a top speed of 20 knots and a range of 14400 km at 15 knots. She carries a crew of between 80 and 90 and has 35 spare berths for marines.

Armaments consist two Matra Simbad twin anti- aircraft missile launchers; one DCN 100 mm/55 Mod 68 CADAM anti-ship gun and two GIAT 20 F2 20 mm anti-aircraft guns. Four Aerospatiale MM 40 Exocet anti-ship missiles can also be carried. An AS 332F Super Puma, SA 365F Dauphin or NFH-90 helicopter was also carried onboard the ship which was able to conduct helicopter operations up to Sea State 5 conditions.

Floréal (F 730) became tasked with protecting UN peacekeepers and enforcing the Somalia arms embargo in 1993. It also took part in Operation Azalée aimed at neutralizing mercenaries led by Bob Denard in the Comoros in 1995. In addition, Floréal has regularly taken part in fisheries protection and compliance in the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF - French Austral and Antarctic Lands). In 1998, it distinguished itself by intercepting in the space of a few hours three longliners illegally operating inside the French Kerguelen EEZ. Starting in 2002, the vessel was tasked with aiding the fight against piracy in the north of the Indian Ocean.

Nivôse (F732) had been tasked since 2000 with conducting fishing police patrols inside the TAAF. Beginning in December 2008, Nivôse became affected to the fight against piracy, as part of the European Union's Operation Atalante; the first French vessel so engaged. In that capacity, in addition to escorting World Food Program ships navigating towards Somalia, it intercepted a number of Somali pirate boats.

Due to the location of its homeport of Martinique in the French Antilles, Ventôse (F733) has been tasked with combatting drug-trafficking. It was in that role that it became the first vessel to experiment with and successfully apply the tactic of neutralizing fast moving boats used by drug traffickers using its helicopter asset.

After having arrived at its new homeport of Toulon on 2 April 1995, the frigate Germinal (F735) was assigned to the Force d'Action Naval until 12 September 2000, at which point it moved to Brest. Germinal was then tasked with policing the English Channel's as well as the North Sea's maritime traffic. On 16 May 2008, Germinal navigated back to Toulon, where it was officially homeported starting on 1 September 2008. From there, its mission was to operate in the Mediterranean Sea, becoming in the process the only surveillance frigate then based on the mainland. Germinal reached its new homeport of Fort-de-France on 2 December 2010, in the French Antilles, joining Ventôse in patrolling and enforcing its EEZ, including notably in the fight against narco-trafficking.

Floreal - the French word meaning flowery, from flourir, to flourish - was the eighth month in the French revolutionary calendar, which began on the 20th of April, and ended on the 19th of May. The ships of this class are named for months in the Republican calendar.



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