I've been dreaming about this photo for a very long time!
Before diving, the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine "Triomphant" faces the Iroise Sea...
D-3: "Ewan, we've got a departure for a patrol in a very short time, are you interested? As I look at the weather forecast, I realise that it could be magical.
In theory, it looks like:
=> 20 to 22 knots of wind: that's not bad, enough to liven up the water, but not too much for my little boat either!
=> Alternating squally clouds and occasional sunshine: if I'm lucky, I'll get a break at just the right moment against a pitch-black backdrop!
=> Wave height: 2m7, still manageable!
=> 15 seconds of swell: this means that the masses of water will perhaps allow the boat's enormous volume to be lifted off its lines...
"You can count on me, Skipper!
D-1: My things are ready, my little boat is checked out, the tank is refuelled and we may be going quite far out into the Iroise Sea... A glance at the weather forecast confirms everything, except for the wind... Ouch, it's strengthening to 25 knots. We'll see...
D-Day: I didn't get much sleep. I have the feeling that the conditions are going to give me the opportunity to get some great sea shots. The black boat leaves the long island surrounded by tugs. By the time it was ready to cross the Narrows, the tension was mounting and so was the wind! I'm beginning to realise that out there, beyond the Minou lighthouse, it's going to be sport!
In recent days, for the first time since September 2020, an American aircraft carrier, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, has been sailing in the Persian Gulf with its escort, including the French multi-mission frigate [FREMM] Languedoc.
Initially deployed in the eastern Mediterranean following the terrorist attacks by Hamas in southern Israel on 7 October, the US Navy's Carrier Strike Group 2 (IKECSG) finally headed for the Red Sea, before crossing the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world's energy supply passes every year. Hence its strategic importance... and the recurring tensions over it.
Clearly, even for a naval air group, transiting through the Strait of Hormuz, described as the "barometer" of the state of relations between Washington and Tehran, is always tricky. Last August, two American ships, the destroyer USS Thomas Hudner and the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, were approached by speedboats armed by the naval component of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
In any case, for the transit of the USS Dwigth D. Eisenhower and its escort through the Straits, the US Navy has requested the support of the French Forces in the United Arab Emirates [FFEAU], recently reinforced by an E-2C Hawkeye airborne surveillance aircraft from Flotille 4F, probably engaged in operation "Agenor" [or EMASoH, European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz], i.e. the maritime surveillance mission in the Strait of Hormuz launched by France in 2020, with the political support of eight European countries.
The presence of a 4F E-2C Hawkeye at 104 Al-Dhafra air base is exceptional, as this type of aircraft is generally operated from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. Until then, the French Navy had mainly deployed Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft for Operation Agenor.
Why was this aircraft asked to monitor the passage of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower through the Strait of Hormuz when it has its own E-2D Hawkeye? The Pentagon press release does not say.
However, it does suggest that Air Force Rafales carried out a SuCAP-type mission in the Straits of Hormuz on behalf of Carrier Strike Group 2. Here again, the American forces are supposed to have their own means of carrying out a mission of this type, in particular with the F-15Es of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, a unit also based at al-Dhafra.
Generally speaking, the US Navy relies mainly on French air assets to protect the transit of its ships through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, with Mirage 2000-5s from Djibouti Air Base 188 regularly called upon for "SuCAP" missions on its behalf.