By direct-entry Marine Engineering Officer Sub Lieutenant Phil Margot has been on a training exchange with the French Navy since January, as part of the Jeanne d’Arc training deployment.
The Jeanne d'Arc training mission, which sailed from Toulon in February, has a long and rich history. All French officers under-training at the Brest Naval Academy undertake their final (sixth) semester of studies during this annual training deployment.
Originally bound for exercises with the Royal Australian Navy and other international partners, the Task Group was re-assigned instead to deliver medical and logistic support to the French islands of La Reunion and Mayotte in the southern Indian Ocean.
“Sailing halfway around the world so soon after joining in 2019 is an incredible opportunity and I’m really grateful to both the Royal Australian Navy and the Marine Nationale,” Sub Lieutenant Margot said.
The Jeanne d’Arc Task Group consists of one amphibious ship, FNS Mistral, and one frigate, FNS Guépratte. Officers under training alternate between the two platforms.
Marine Engineers stand watch in the machinery control rooms and take part in maintenance activities.
Logistic procedures are another focus, and the French curriculum includes geopolitical briefs, many of which relate to Australia, South East Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, where France has significant territorial interests including 9 million square kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Captain Ken Macaulay-Black, Chief of Navy Liaison Officer, said it was both valuable and important to have Royal Australian Navy officers participating alongside their French counterparts.
“This is now the second year running that a Royal Australian Navy Engineer has been able to take part in the Jeanne d’Arc training mission as we continue to expand and deepen our links with the Marine Nationale,” Captain Macaulay-Black said.
Having completed a successful PASSEX with HMAS Toowoomba on patrol in support of Combined Task Force 150, the Jeanne d’Arc Task Group enjoyed a short port visit to the Maldives in March.
“As I integrated into my class, I received many questions about the bushfires and our Attack Class Submarines,” Sub Lieutenant Margot said.