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Visit on French Navy La Fayette Class Frigate FS Courbet

The French Navy’s (Marine Nationale) general-purpose stealth frigate Courbet is part of the La Fayette class. In addition to being the third ship in the class, she is also the third French ship to bear the name of Admiral Amédée Courbet, who lived in the 19th century.

On Tuesday, February 20th, Horizon was invited onboard FS Courbet during her stop in Valletta. The crew of Horizon, along with other local press, was given a tour of the vessel. Firstly, we proceeded to the Bridge where we were welcomed by the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jeremy Montastier.

Capt. Montastier is in his first tour of duty as Commanding Officer of a vessel after being appointed CO in December. He explained that Courbet is presently deployed under European Union command to guarantee adherence to UN Security Council resolution 2684, which was written by France and Malta and ratified in June 2023. By this resolution, the UN arms embargo against Libya is extended for a further 12 months.

The ship has a crew of 140, and since having a Eurocopter AS565SA Panther embarked, it has an additional 40 crew deployed with them. Around 20% of the total crew are females, and the average age of all the crew is 28. When asked by Horizon if this was the first time Capt. Montastier visited Malta, he replied that it was his second time, and the first was during Operation Harmattan with the sistership of Courbet, FS La Fayette back in 2011.

The tour continued with a visit to the weapon systems of the frigate, namely, the 100 mm TR automatic gun, which was used the last time ‘in anger’ during Operation Harmattan, the Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles, and the newly upgraded and installed MBDA’s SADRAL launchers / MISTRAL Mk3 SAMs used for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense. This upgrade was done after a major refit of the vessel between October 2020 and June 2021.

In 2023, the frigate was deployed to the Indian Ocean on another EU mission, this time EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta. Four Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBS) are also available on the ship, two large ones used for boarding teams are on both sides, and two smaller ones at the ship’s stern, which are normally used in men overboard cases and smaller tasks, and they can be deployed to the sea very fast.

The La Fayette-Class frigates (FLF) are primarily built to protect and uphold French interests in foreign maritime areas and to assist in the settlement of conflicts outside of Europe. They might be needed in this situation to support humanitarian missions, special operations, the security of commercial transportation, or an intervention force.

The vessel was launched on March 12th, 1994, and commissioned in the French Navy on April 1st, 1997.