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Ouragan

The mission of Transport de Chalands de Débarquement (TCD) / small dock landing ships [LSD] Ouragan was to transport and bring to action within a zone of operation, located far from homebases, helicopters (two Super Frelon or four Puma) and landing craft loaded with personnel and equipment (tanks, food, etc...).

A joint command post allowed for the conduct of amphibious and helicopter-based operations.

Ouragan-class vessels also can serve as maintenance, logistics and repair ships. With a normal carrying capacity of 349 troops, they were able to carry up to 470 troops over short distances.

Ourgan-class ships came equiped with a 120 meters-long well deck, which could be submerged by 3 meters. In addition, a removable, six-sections, 36 meters-long deck allowed for the landing and takeoff of heavy helicopters while a temporary, 15-sections and 90 meters long deck could be assigned for cargo or vehicle stowage. The temporary deck would, however, reduces the available well space and thus the number of landing craft that could be carried onboard.

Construction of TCD Ouragan was approved in the 1960 budget. The 1965 budget approves the construction of a new TCD, closely derived from TCD Ouragan, and which was to be financed by the DirCen (Direction du Centre des Expérimentations Nucléaires / Directorate of the Center for Nuclear Experimentations) for the CEP (Centre d'Expérimentations du Pacifique / Pacific Experimentation Center). Both TCDs Orage and Ouragan had service life extensions.

With the ability to only operate two or three helicopters, the TCD (especially those of the OURAGAN [HURRICANE] class which lacked a permanent helicopter hangar) were less capable than the amphibious vessels of France's principal allies (SAN MARCO, ROTTERDAM, OCEAN). This was highlighted during their participation in a number of multinational amphibious exercises with a great focus on aviation from the sea with helicopters involved in the first wave of amphibious operations. This was compensated through the use of high speed Engin de debarquement amphibie rapide (EDA-R) also known as LCAT (Landing CATamaran); useful for the rapid movement of heavy equipment and which remain in use by Mistral NTCD-classs vessels.

TCD Ouragan was laid down in Brest, on 20 June 1962 and launched on 9 November 1963. The ship then undertook an endurance cruise towards French Polynesia, departing Brest on 9 May 1965 and making port calls in Fort de France, Panama, Clipperton, Nuku Hiva and Papeete.

Afer offloading material for the CEP, TCD Ouragan was admitted into active service on 1 June 1965 and proceeded to stop in Papeete for a 15 days portal on 16 June 1965 for replenishment and repairs. It returned to its homeport of Brest 24 August 1965 after making additional port calls in Pearl Harbor, Acapulco, Panama, Fort de France and Funchal. Thereafter, TCD Ouragan deployed repeatedly to French Polynesia in support of France's nuclear test campaign there. On 1 September 1976, it changed homeport to Toulon, after falling under the command of d'Alescmed (Amiral commandant l'Escadre de la Méditerranée). Deployments to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific ensued.

In the summer of 1980, TCD Ouragan became assigned to Alesclant (Amiral commandant l'escadre de l'Atlantique) and was once again was homeported at Brest. Put on alert on 15 January 1991, it deployed on 27 February 1990 to take part in Operation Daguet along with TCD Foudre, and transporting 10% of French troops taking part in the Persian Gulf conflict following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. On 1 June 1992, TCD Ouragan was assigned to the newly created Force d'Ation Navale (FAN) and subsequently homeported again in Toulon starting 22 September 1993.

TCD Orage was laid down in Brest on 20 June 1966, launched on 22 April 1967 and admitted into active service on 1 April 1968. Unlike its sister ship TCD Ouragan, Orage was not armed; a sign that it was more a transport vessel than an amphibious ship. Originally homeported in Brest, it was placed on 10 April 1968 under the authority of the DIRCEN's Centre des Expérimentations du Pacifique (CEP) for which it conducted 11 deployments to the Pacific, conducting a variety of missions. On 1 January 1977, it was reassigned to Alesclant.

It took part in a number of deployments to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. In 1982, Orage took part in Operation Olifant 82, and was tasked with supporting the setting up of an international force helping Palestinians leave Beyrouth; a mission it will take up again for Olifant XIX/Diodon V from 27 January to 1 March 1984 and including Operation Anaconda to reinforce the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to the South of Tyr. From October to December 1990, TCD Orage took part in Operation Daguet, helping with the buildup of coalition troops in the Persian Gulf region, and later to repatriate some of the same troops and equipment following the liberation of Kuwait.

On 1 June 1992, TCD Orage was reassigned to ALFAN (Amiral de la Force d'Action Navale). It then proceeds to undergo a maintenance availability from 21 September 1992 to 19 February 1993; work which will see, among others, its engines, electric powerplants get a complete overhaul, the incorporation of an Simbad defense system, and an augmented fuel capacity for helicopters. Later in the year, on 4 September 1993, it relocates to its new homeport of Toulon.

During the year 2000s, the TCDs took part in a half-dozen multinational exercises, in multiple missions of reinforcement or presence in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic or Indian Ocean and a number of national exercises. They also constituted a major asset off Africa when deteriorating political tensions there forced the evacuation of nationals (mission CORYMBE).

In June 2003, TCD Orage took part in Operation Providence to help in the evacuation of French and foreign nationals from Liberia's capital, Monrovia. The following year, in February, TCD Orage disembarked French troops in Dakar, Senegal as part of Operation Licorne in nearby Ivory Coast. The next month, it was deployed as part of Operation Carbet, as part of a multinational force in Haiti following the overthrow of President Aristide. Later in the summer, it was deployed to help transport more French troops to Ivory Coast.

TCD Ouragan conducted its final operational mission off the coast of West Africa from September to December 2005. TCD Orage returned to Toulon on 1 December 2006 following its final deployment.

The Ouragan was decommissioned in 2006, after over forty years in service. TCD Orage was itself decommissioned on 29 June 2007. Both ships were initially supposed to be sold to the Argentine Navy; however concerns about the use of asbestos during the ships' construction caused Argentina to cancel the transfer in January 2007. With the prospect of a foreign sale no longer viable, TCD Ouragan was transfered to the Toulon naval base on 12 December 2008 and sent to Brégaillon on 13 January 2009. Comdemned on 16 July 2009, it was given the number Q848 and slated to be broken up. TCD Orage was transferred to the Base Navale de Toulon on 20 May 2009. It was condemned for break up on 16 July 2009 and given the number Q-849. Both of these ships were replaced with two new 20,000-ton Mistral class LHDs.

As of January 2011, they were still moored in Toulon's harbor.



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