The second largest, and perhaps second most powerful ship in the French Navy, the Mistral Helicopter Carrier was in Lagos Nigeria in October 2018. Escorted by a French frigate, Commandant Ducuing, both ships were in Nigerian waters for two days (October 17-17)during a Port Call stopover in Lagos.
Officially the Mistral helicopter carrier was in Lagos for a Franco-Nigerian “Sagne” patrol operation, during which the French Navy worked with the network of regional command centers and operational centers of the Nigerian navy.
Having these two powerful warships in Nigerian waters is clearly designed to send a clear message to the Nigerian Navy. It’s the biggest warship to have ever entered Nigerian waters and must have left a lasting impression on Nigerian naval observers,
The two ships then went back to sea with the Nigerian frigate Unity to conduct a joint training. Tactical evolutions and interactions in the field of information and communication systems made it possible to test common procedures and to develop interoperability between the buildings of both nations.
Covering some 24,000 mm², twice the size of the Paris region, the “Sagne” patrol was able to identify 91 commercial vessels, thanks to the maritime surveillance flights carried out by the helicopter on board the BPC.
France has maintained an almost permanent naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea, with the primary aim of protecting French interests in the area since 1990. The deployment of French vessels on a Corymbe mission completes the pre-positioned French system in West Africa (Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal) and participates in the maritime component of operational cooperation implemented regionally by these presence forces.