The French Navy’s Mistral Class vessels have all visited Malta; Mistral, Tonnerre and Dixmude visited have all managed to visit Valletta’s Grand Harbour.
|10 July 2003
|6 October 2004
|26 August 2003
|26 July 2005
|18 April 2009
|17 September 2010
|27 December 2012
In 2011 during the Libyan crisis Mistral and Tonnerre visited the Grand Harbour and it was the first time Mistral Class ships berthed in Malta. Mistral was the first to call and a couple of months after most probably after replacing each other Tonnerre added Valletta to one of its port calls.
At the height of the Libyan crisis the ships were armed with French Army Tigre HAP, SA-342 Gazelle’s and SA-330 Puma helicopters while also having embarked French Army SA-330 Puma and EC725R2 Caracal helicopters.
Mistral was the first to visit in August 2011, Tonnerre followed in October of the same year while we had to wait for more than 12 years to see the third and final French Navy Mistral-Class – Dixmude which our island last Friday 2nd February 2024.
Five amphibious assault ships of the Mistral class were constructed by France. Known also as “projection and command ships” (French: bâtiments de projection et de commandement, or BPC), they are sometimes used interchangeably with helicopter carriers. The French Navy currently operates three ships of this class: Mistral, Tonnerre, and Dixmude.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France at the time, declared on December 24, 2010, that a deal for two ships for the Russian Navy will be signed on January 25, 2011. In reaction to the Russia-Ukraine situation, French President François Hollande declared on September 3, 2014, that the first warship, the Vladivostok, would not be delivered as planned. Presidents Hollande and Putin of Russia declared on August 5, 2015, that France would retain the two ships and return all payments; later the two ships were sold to Egypt.
A Mistral-class ship can carry and launch sixteen NH90 or Tiger helicopters, four landing craft, up to seventy-five vehicles (including thirteen Leclerc tanks) or a battalion of forty Leclerc tanks and four hundred and fifty men. In addition to having a 69-bed hospital, the ships can be used with peacekeeping forces from the United Nations, the European Union, or NATO Response Forces.