Caught in Limbo: French Navy Has No Use for Extra Mistrals, Looks to Moscow
21:05 27.04.2015(updated 21:09 27.04.2015)
The French Navy hopes the Mistral deal between Paris and Moscow works out and the Russians get to have their two helicopter carriers, as the French marines don't want two extra Mistrals at their disposal.
The General Staff of the French Navy does not want the cancellation of the Mistral deal, because in this case the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers will be transferred to France, meanwhile the French seamen don't want two extra ships at their disposal, French journalist Jean-Dominique Merchet, who specializes in military affairs, said in French daily l'Opinion.
'At the headquarters of the Navy, any questions about the future fate of 'Vladivostok' and 'Sevastopol' [the names of the two Mistrals] are met with silence. Sailors fear that the political leadership will make an obvious choice: pass the ships to the French Navy. The Navy, however, doesn't hide the fact that they absolutely don't want the two Mistrals back,' Merchet said.
The French Navy already has three Mistral-class ships, put into service between 2006 and 2012. According to Merchet, sailors are happy with them and there is no need for extra ships for them.
The transfer of two extra ships to the French Navy, while the budget remains the same, would mean a loss of several other, smaller vessels, Merchet explained.
'It is a real nightmare for admirals, who fear the imbalance of power in the Navy due to reliance on a few bigger ships,' the journalist said.
There is a chance that France won't be able to find other buyers for its Mistrals, as no country has expressed a wish to purchase the French ships yet.
Earlier Merchet said that the upkeep and maintenance costs of the two Mistrals, currently docked at the port in Saint-Nazaire, cost France €5 million (around $5.4 million) a month. In the event that France decides not to transfer the Mistrals to Russia and pay back Moscow the money pre-paid for the ships, it will have to shell out €890 million ($960 million). The whole sum, including penalties and damages, should be around one billion euros.
Back in 2011, France and Russia signed a $1.5 billion deal for two Mistral ships. The handover of the first ship was supposed to happen in November of 2014, but France decided to put the delivery on hold, claiming Russia's interference in the Ukrainian crisis as the reason.
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