French Navy

The French Navy (French: Marine Nationale, lit. National Navy), informally "La Royale", is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces. Dating back to 1624, the French Navy is one of the world's oldest naval forces. It has participated in conflicts around the globe and played a key part in establishing the French colonial empire.

The French Navy consists of six main branches and various services: the Force d'Action Navale, the Forces Sous-marines (FOST, ESNA), the Maritime Force of Naval Aeronautics, the Fusiliers Marins (including Commandos Marine), the Marins Pompiers, and the Maritime Gendarmerie.

As of June 2014, the French Navy employed a total of 36,776 personnel along with 2,800 civilians. Its reserve element consisted of 4,827 personnel of the Operational Reserve.[3] As a blue-water navy, it operates a wide range of fighting vessels, which include the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, various aeronaval forces, attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines, frigates, patrol boats and support ships.

French Navy
Marine Nationale
Logo of the French Navy (Marine Nationale)
Logo of the Marine Nationale since 1990.
Active1624–present
Country France
TypeNavy
RoleNaval warfare
Size36,331 personnel (2016)[1] and 2800 civilians (2014)
180 ships[2]
210 aircraft[1]
Garrison/HQMain: Brest, Île Longue, Toulon
Secondary: Cherbourg, Lorient
French overseas territories: Fort de France, Degrad des Cannes, Port des Galets, Dzaoudzi, Nouméa, Papeete
Overseas: Dakar, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi
Nickname(s)La Royale
Motto(s)Honneur, patrie, valeur, discipline
("Honour, homeland, valour, discipline")
ColoursBlue, white, red
ShipsCurrent fleet
Engagements
Websitewww.etremarin.fr
Commanders
Chef d'État-Major de La Marine, CEMMAmiral Christophe Prazuck
Major Général de La MarineAmiral Denis Béraud
Insignia
InsigniaRanks in the French Navy
Naval ensign
Civil and Naval Ensign of France
Aircraft flown
AttackRafale M
Electronic
warfare
Hawkeye
FighterRafale M
HelicopterNH90, Eurocopter Lynx, Panther, Dauphin
Utility helicopterAlouette III
PatrolAtlantique 2, Falcon 50, Falcon 200
TrainerMudry CAP 10, MS-88 Rallye, Falcon 10, Xingu

Origins

The history of French naval power dates back to the Middle Ages, and had three loci of evolution:

Names and symbols

The first true French Royal Navy (French: la Marine Royale) was established in 1624 by Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister to King Louis XIII. During the French Revolution, la Marine Royale was formally renamed la Marine Nationale. Under the First French Empire and the Second French Empire, the navy was designated as the Imperial French Navy (la Marine Française Impériale). Institutionally, however, the navy has never lost its short familiar nickname, la Royale.

The symbol of the French Navy was since its origin a golden anchor, which, beginning in 1830, was interlaced by a sailing rope. This symbol was featured on all naval vessels, arms, and uniforms.[4] Although anchor symbols are still used on uniforms, a new naval logo was introduced in 1990. Authorized by Naval Chief of Staff Bernard Louzeau, the modern design incorporates the tricolour by flanking the bow section of a white warship with two ascending red and blue spray foams, and the inscription "Marine nationale".

History

Ancre Marine nationale
The historic "Golden Anchor" symbol

17th century

Cardinal Richelieu personally supervised the Navy until his death in 1643.[5] He was succeeded by his protégé, Jean Baptiste Colbert, who introduced the first code of regulations of the French Navy, and established the original naval dockyards in Brest and Toulon.[5] Colbert and his son, the Marquis de Seignelay, between them administered the Navy for twenty-nine years.[5]

During this century, the Navy cut its teeth in the Anglo-French War (1627–1629), the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Franco-Dutch War, and the Nine Years' War. Major battles in these years include the Battle of Beachy Head, the Battles of Barfleur and La Hougue, the Battle of Lagos, and the Battle of Texel.

18th century

The 1700s opened with the War of the Spanish Succession, over a decade long, followed by the War of the Austrian Succession in the 1740s. Principal engagements of these wars include the Battle of Vigo Bay and two separate Battles of Cape Finisterre in 1747. The most grueling conflict for the Navy, however, was the Seven Years' War, in which it was virtually destroyed.[5] Significant actions include the Battle of Cap-Français, the Battle of Quiberon Bay, and another Battle of Cape Finisterre.

The Navy regrouped and rebuilt, and within 15 years it was eager to join the fray when France intervened in the American Revolutionary War.[5] Though outnumbered everywhere, the French fleets held the British at bay for years until victory.[5] After this conflict and the concomitant Anglo-French War (1778–1783), the Navy emerged at a new height in its history.[5] Major battles in these years include the Battle of the Chesapeake, the Battle of Cape Henry, the Battle of Grenada, the invasion of Dominica, and three separate Battles of Ushant.

Within less than a decade, however, the Navy was decimated by the French Revolution when large numbers of veteran officers were dismissed or executed for their noble lineage.[5] Nonetheless, the Navy fought vigorously through the French Revolutionary Wars as well as the Quasi-War. Significant actions include a fourth Battle of Ushant (known in English as the Glorious First of June), the Battle of Groix, the Atlantic campaign of May 1794, the French expedition to Ireland, the Battle of Tory Island, and the Battle of the Nile.

19th century

Other engagements of the Revolutionary Wars ensued in the early 1800s, including the Battle of the Malta Convoy and the Algeciras Campaign. The Quasi-War wound down with single-ship actions including USS Constellation vs La Vengeance and USS Enterprise vs Flambeau.

When Napoleon was crowned Emperor in 1804, he attempted to restore the Navy to a position that would enable his plan for an invasion of England.[5] His dreams were dashed by the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where the British all but annihilated a combined Franco-Spanish fleet, a disaster that guaranteed British naval superiority throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Still, the Navy did not shrink from action: among the engagements of this time were the Battle of the Basque Roads, the Battle of Grand Port, the Mauritius campaign of 1809–11, and the Battle of Lissa,

After Napoleon's fall in 1815, the long era of Anglo-French rivalry on the seas began to close, and the Navy became more of an instrument for expanding the French colonial empire.[5] Under King Charles X, the two nations' fleets fought side by side in the Battle of Navarino, and throughout the rest of the century they generally behaved in a manner that paved the way for the Entente Cordiale.[5]

Charles X sent a large fleet to execute the invasion of Algiers in 1830. The next year, his successor, Louis Philippe I, made a show of force against Portugal at the Battle of the Tagus, and in 1838 conducted another display of gunboat diplomacy, this time in Mexico at the Battle of Veracruz. Beginning in 1845, a five-year Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata was imposed on Argentina over trade rights.

The Emperor Napoleon III was determined to follow an even stronger foreign policy than his predecessors, and the Navy was involved in a multitude of actions around the world. He joined in the Crimean War in 1854; major actions for the Navy include the siege of Petropavlovsk and the Battle of Kinburn. The Navy was heavily involved in the Cochinchina Campaign in 1858, the Second Opium War in China, and the French intervention in Mexico. It took part in the French campaign against Korea, and fought Japan in the bombardment of Shimonoseki. In the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the Navy imposed an effective blockade of Germany, but events on land proceeded at such a rapid pace that it was superfluous. Isolated engagements between French and German ships took place in other theaters, but the war was over in a matter of weeks.[6][7]

The Navy continued to protect colonial safety and expansion under the French Third Republic. The Sino-French War saw considerable naval action including the Battle of Fuzhou, the Battle of Shipu, and the Pescadores Campaign. In Vietnam, the Navy helped wage the Tonkin Campaign which included the Battle of Thuận An, and it later participated in the Franco-Siamese War of 1893.

The 19th century French Navy brought forth numerous new technologies. It led the development of naval artillery with its invention of the highly effective Paixhans gun. In 1850, Napoléon became the first steam-powered battleship in history, and Gloire became the first seagoing ironclad warship nine years later. In 1863, the Navy launched Plongeur, the first submarine in the world to be propelled by mechanical power. In 1876, Redoutable became the first steel-hulled warship ever. In 1887, Dupuy de Lôme became the world's first armoured cruiser.

20th century

The first seaplane, the French Fabre Hydravion, was flown in 1910, and the first seaplane carrier, Foudre, was christened in the following year.[8] Despite that innovation, the general development of the French Navy slowed down in the beginning of the 20th century as the naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain grew in intensity. It entered World War I with relatively few modern vessels, and during the war few warships were built because the main French effort was on land. While the British held control of the North Sea, the French held the Mediterranean, where they mostly kept watch on the Austro-Hungarian Navy.[5] The largest operations of the Navy were conducted during the Dardanelles Campaign.[5] In December 1916, French warships bombarded Athens, forcing the pro-German government of Greece to change its policies.[9] The French Navy also played an important role in countering Germany's U-boat campaign by regularly patrolling the seas and escorting convoys.[5]

Between the World Wars, the Navy modernized and expanded significantly, even in the face of limitations set by the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty.[5] New additions included the heavy and fast Fantasque class "super-destroyers", the massive Richelieu-class battleships, and the submarine Surcouf which was the largest and most powerful of its day.

From the start of World War II, the Navy was involved in a number of operations, participating in the Battle of the Atlantic, the Norwegian Campaign, the Dunkirk evacuation and, briefly, the Battle of the Mediterranean. However, after the fall of France in June 1940, the Navy was obligated to remain neutral under the terms of the armistice that created the truncated state of Vichy France. Worldwide, some 100 naval vessels and their crews heeded General Charles de Gaulle's call to joined forces with the British, but the bulk of the fleet, including all its capital ships, transferred loyalty to Vichy. Concerned that the German Navy might somehow gain control of the ships, the British mounted an attack on Mers-el-Kébir, the Algerian city where many of them were harbored. The incident poisoned Anglo-French relations, leading to Vichy reprisals and a full-scale naval battle at Casablanca in 1942 when the Allies invaded French North Africa. But the confrontations were set aside once the Germans occupied Vichy France. The capital ships were a primary goal of the occupation, but before they could be seized they were scuttled by their own crews. A few small ships and submarines managed to escape in time, and these joined de Gaulle's Free French Naval Forces, an arm of Free France that fought as an adjunct of the Royal Navy until the end of the war. In the Pacific theatre as well, Free French vessels operated until the Japanese capitulation; Richelieu was present at the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.

The Navy later provided fire support and troop transport in the Indochina War, the Algerian War, the Gulf War, and the Kosovo War.

21st century

Since 2000, the Navy has given logistical support to the War in Afghanistan (2001–2014) as well as the global War on Terror. In 2011, it assisted Opération Harmattan in Libya.

Organisation

French navy facilities in metropolitan France corrected 2
French navy facilities in metropolitan France (status 2015)

The chief of the naval staff is Vice-amiral d’escadre Arnaud de Tarlé,[10] and as of 2014 the Navy has an active strength of 36,776 military personnel and 2,909 civilian staff.[11] The Navy is organised into four main operational branches:

In addition, the National Gendarmerie of France maintain a maritime force of patrol boats that falls under the operational command of the French Navy:

During most of the Cold War, the Navy was organised in two squadrons based in Brest and Toulon, commanded by ALESCLANT (Amiral commandant l'escadre de l'Atlantique) and ALESCMED (Amiral commandant l'escadre de la Méditerranée) respectively. Since the post-Cold War restructuring process named Optimar '95, the two components have been divided into the Naval Action Force (commanded by ALFAN) and the Antisubmarine Group (commanded by ALGASM).[12]

Main naval bases

As of 2014, the largest French naval base is the military port of Toulon. Other major bases in metropolitan France are the Brest Arsenal and Ile Longue on the Atlantic, and Cherbourg Naval Base on the English Channel. Overseas French bases include Fort de France and Degrad des Cannes in the Americas; Port des Galets and Dzaoudzi in the Indian Ocean; and Nouméa and Papeete in the Pacific. In addition, the navy shares or leases bases in foreign locales such as Abu Dhabi, Dakar and Djibouti.

Equipment

Ships and submarines

Although French naval doctrine calls for two aircraft carriers, As of 2019 the French only have one, Charles de Gaulle. Originally a planned order for French aircraft carrier PA2 was based on the design of the British Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier recently constructed and launched for the British Royal Navy. However the French programme had been delayed several times for budgetary reasons and the result was priority being given to the more exportable FREMM project. In April 2013 it was confirmed that the second aircraft carrier project would be abandoned due to defence cuts announced in the 2013 French White Paper on Defence and National Security.

The French Navy operates three amphibious assault ships, one amphibious transport dock, two air defence frigates, seven anti-submarine frigates, five general purpose frigates and six fleet submarines (SSNs). This constitutes the French Navy's main oceangoing war-fighting forces. In addition the French Navy operates six light surveillance frigates and nine avisos (light corvettes). They undertake the navy's offshore patrol combat duties, the protection of French Naval bases and territorial waters, and can also provide low-end escort capabilities to any oceangoing task force. The four ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) of the navy's Strategic Oceanic Force provide the backbone of the French nuclear deterrent.

Aircraft

The French Naval Aviation is officially known as the Aéronautique navale and was created on the 19 June 1998 with the merging of Naval patrol aircraft and aircraft carrier squadrons. It has a strength of around 6,800 civilian and military personnel operating from four airbases in Metropolitan France. The Aéronavale is currently in the process of modernisation with a total order of 40 Rafale light fighters on order. Forty have so far been delivered and operate from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

Personnel

Personnel strength of the French Navy 2015
Category Strength
Commissioned officers 4,500
Petty officers 23,600
Seamen 6,600
Volunteers 767
Civilian employees 2,800
Source:[13]

Application requirement

Seamen

Seamen must be at least 17 but no more than 24 years old, with a minimum level of schooling.

Petty Officers

Petty officers must be at least 17 but no more than 24 years old, with at least a high school diploma giving access to university studies. Petty Officer Candidate begin training with five months at the Petty Officer School at Brest.

Contract officers

Contract officers serve on an initial eight-year contract, renewable up to 20 years.

  • Operational officers must be 21 to 26 years old, with at least a bachelor of science degree, or having passed a classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles in engineering or business.
  • Staff officers have to be 21 to 29 years old, with an honors degree or master's degree in a field corresponding to the military occupational specialty.
Career officers
  • Less than 22 years old, having passed a classe préparatoire in science. After four years at the École Navale (naval academy) a cadet will graduate as Lieutenant junior grade with an engineering degree.
  • Less than 25 years old, having an honors degree in science. After three years at the naval academy a cadet will graduate as Lieutenant Jg. with an engineering degree.
  • Less than 27 years old, having a master's degree. After two years at the naval academy a cadet will graduate as Lieutenant Jg.

Customs and traditions

Ranks

The rank insignia of the French Navy are worn on shoulder straps of shirts and white jackets, and on sleeves for navy jackets and mantels. Until 2005, only commissioned officers had an anchor on their insignia, but enlisted personnel are now receiving them as well. Commanding officers have titles of capitaine, but are called commandant (in the army, both capitaine and commandant are ranks, which tends to stir some confusion among the public). The two highest ranks, vice-amiral d'escadre and amiral (admiral), are functions, rather than ranks. They are assumed by officers ranking vice-amiral (vice admiral). The only amiral de la flotte (Admiral of the Fleet) was François Darlan after he was refused the dignity of amiral de France (Admiral of France). Equivalent to the dignity of Marshal of France, the rank of amiral de France remains theoretical in the Fifth Republic; it was last granted in 1869, during the Second Empire, but retained during the Third Republic until the death of its bearer in 1873. The title of amiral de la flotte was created so that Darlan would not have an inferior rank than his counterpart in the British Royal Navy, who had the rank of Admiral of the Fleet.

Addressing officers

Unlike in the French Army and air force, one does not prepend mon to the name of the rank when addressing an officer (that is, not mon capitaine, but simply capitaine).[14] Addressing a French Navy lieutenant de vaisseau (for instance) with a "mon capitaine" will attract the traditional answer "Dans la Marine il y a Mon Dieu et mon cul, pas mon capitaine!" ("In the Navy there are My God and my arse, no 'my captain'!").

Uniforms

Jean-Bart seaman Bastille Day 2008

Winter Uniform (22)

Charles-de-Gaulle seaman Bastille Day 2008

Summer Uniform (26)

Matelot

Overseas (25)

Quartier maitre

Light Duty Firefighter Suit

Future

Flickr - Official U.S. Navy Imagery - A French landing craft comes ashore during the amphibious assault phase of Bold Alligator 2012.
EDA-R landing craft on the beach

France's financial problems have affected all branches of her military. The 2013 French White Paper on Defence and National Security cancelled the long-planned new aircraft carrier and a possible fourth Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, and conceded that British help would be needed to sustain an enduring presence.[15] The backbone of the fleet will be the Aquitaine-class FREMM anti-submarine frigates, replacing the Georges Leygues class, but plans to buy a possible seventeen FREMMs were cut back to eleven and then to eight. The cancellation of the third and fourth Horizon destroyers mean that the last two FREMM hulls in 2021/2 will be fitted out as FREDA air-defence ships to replace the Cassard class.[16] DCNS has shown a FREMM-ER concept to meet this requirement, emphasising ballistic missile defence with the Thales Sea Fire 500 AESA radar.[17] Industrial considerations mean that the funds for FREMMs 9-11 will now be spent on five more exportable frégates de taille intermédiaire (FTI, "intermediate size frigates") from 2023 to replace the La Fayette class which in the meantime will be upgraded with new sonars.[18]

On 9 January 2014 it was announced that the two remaining Batrals in French service would be replaced in 2016/17 by three 1500-tonne (empty) Bâtiments Multimission (B2M) at a cost of ~€100m (US$136m), later increased to four.[19] DCNS has funded the construction of the Gowind-class corvette L'Adroit and loaned her to the MN for fishery patrols to support an overseas marketing campaign for the design. The Durance class will be replaced under the FLOTLOG project by four derivatives of Italy's Vulcano Logistic Support Ship, to be delivered in 2022–29.[20] along with four BSAH offshore support vessels. Construction has started on the first of six Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarines; commissioning of Suffren is planned for 2018. The first MM40 Exocet Block 3 missile was test-fired in 2010 to be produced. Naval versions of the SCALP EG land-attack cruise missile are under development, along with a planned Aster Block 1NT with greater capabilities against ballistic missiles.

In October 2018, the French Ministry of Defence launched an 18-month study for €40 million for the eventual future replacement of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle beyond 2030. A decision for the new carrier is scheduled to take place beyond 2025, and the future carrier is to remain in service until beyond 2080.[21][22]

French naval officers

Corsairs

Heroes of the First Republic

Explorers

Other important French naval officers

Notable people who served in the French Navy

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Defence Key Figures: 2016 Edition". Defense.gouv.fr. (download PDF file or see HTML version Archived September 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine)
  2. ^ French Navy, defense.gouv.fr
  3. ^ "Key defence figures 2014" (PDF) (in French). Defense.gouv.fr. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-13.
  4. ^ L'Ordonnance royale de 1772 prévoit le port de l'ancre d'or sur les tenues des régiments des ports constituant le corps royal de la Marine, implantés à Toulon, Brest, Rochefort, Saint-Malo, Bordeaux, Le Havre, Bayonne et Cherbourg.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Auphan, Gabriel Paul; Mordai, Jacques (2016) [1959]. "Chapter 1: The Naval Tradition of France". The French Navy in World War II. Translated by Sabalot, A.C.J. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-68247-060-2.
  6. ^ Wawro, Geoffrey: The Franco-Prussian War: The German conquest of France in 1870–1871
  7. ^ Wilhelm Rustow and John Layland Needham: The Way for the Rhine Frontier, 1870: Its Political and Military History
  8. ^ Description and photograph of Foudre
  9. ^ "French Navy, World War 1". Naval-history.net. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  10. ^ "État-major" (in French). Defense.gouv.fr. 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  11. ^ "Forces (Navy)". Ministry of Defence (France). 18 July 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  12. ^ T.D. Young, Command in NATO after the Cold War, Carlisle Barracks, 1997
  13. ^ Chiffres clés de la Défense – 2016 Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  14. ^ Rapport sur la féminisation des noms de métier, fonction, grade ou titre – La diversité des usages
  15. ^ "White paper on defense 2013" (PDF). Defense.gouv.fr.
  16. ^ Projet De Loi De programmation Militarie 2014/2019 (in French) August 2013
  17. ^ "DCNS to unveil new FREMM Frigate variant, updated BRAVE supply ship design at Euronaval 2012". Navy Recognition. 4 October 2012.
  18. ^ "Update to French Military Planning Law Means New Capabilities for Lafayette Class Frigates". Navy Recognition. 21 May 2015.
  19. ^ Pape, Alex (9 January 2014). "France orders three new multimission vessels". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
  20. ^ Cabirol, Michel (15 June 2018). "Pétrolier ravitailleur : la France monte à bord du programme italien Vulcano". Le Tribune.
  21. ^ "France starts study phase for new aircraft carrier". Naval Today. 24 October 2018. Archived from the original on 24 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  22. ^ Briganti, de, Giovanni (24 October 2018). "France Launches Studies for New Aircraft Carrier". Defense Aerospace. Paris. Archived from the original on 30 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.

Further reading

  • Jenkins, E H (1973). A History of the French Navy from its Beginnings to the Present Day. London: Macdonald and Jane's. ISBN 0356-04196-4.
  • Randier, Jean (2006). La Royale: L'histoire illustrée de la Marine nationale française. ISBN 978-2-35261-022-9.
  • Winfield, Rif and Roberts, Stephen S., French Warships in the Age of Sail, 1626-1786: Design, Constructions, Careers and Fates (Seaforth Publishing, 2017) ISBN 978-1-4738-9351-1; French Warships in the Age of Sail, 1786-1861: Design, Constructions, Careers and Fates (Seaforth Publishing, 2015) ISBN 978-1-84832-204-2.

External links

April 2009 raid off Somalia

The April 2009 raid off Somalia was a military operation conducted by France and Germany to retake the French yacht Tanit on 9 April 2009, a yacht which had been captured by Somali pirates on 4 April 2009. It occurred during Operation Atalanta, a European Union mission in Somali waters. The pirates had attempted to extract a ransom by holding the yacht's occupants hostage, but were ultimately defeated when the French Navy assaulted them.

Canon de 65 mm Modèle 1891

The Canon de 65 mm Modèle 1891 & Modèle 1902 were a family of widely used naval guns of the French Navy that were also used by the Ottoman Navy during World War I. Guns removed from decommissioned ships also saw use as coastal artillery and as fortress guns in the Maginot Line fortifications during World War II.

Commandos Marine

The Commandos Marine are the Special Operation Forces (SOF) of the French Navy. The Commandos Marine are nicknamed Bérets Verts (Green Berets). They operate under the Naval Riflemen and Special Operations Forces Command (FORFUSCO) and form part of the French Special Operations Command.

Dassault Rafale

The Dassault Rafale (French pronunciation: ​[ʁafal], literally meaning "gust of wind", and "burst of fire" in a more military sense) is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an "omnirole" aircraft by Dassault.

In the late 1970s, the French Air Force and Navy were seeking to replace and consolidate their current fleets of aircraft. In order to reduce development costs and boost prospective sales, France entered into an arrangement with UK, Germany, Italy and Spain to produce an agile multi-purpose fighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon. Subsequent disagreements over workshare and differing requirements led to France's pursuit of its own development programme. Dassault built a technology demonstrator which first flew in July 1986 as part of an eight-year flight-test programme, paving the way for the go-ahead of the project. The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France's major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran.

Many of the aircraft's avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the optronique secteur frontal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities. The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.

Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Several upgrades to the weapons and avionics of the Rafale are planned to be introduced by 2018.

Escorteur

The French term escorteur (French: Escorteur) appeared during the Second World War to designate a naval warship, referring to an average or light displacement, which had for mission to protect the oceanic convoys and squadrons from attacks coming from submarines. This role was in general handled by a destroyer escort such as the Buckley and Cannon classes built in the United States, or the Hunt-class destroyer built by the United Kingdom, or even the frigates of the River class built by the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The Imperial Japanese Navy used the denomination of Kaibokan for this type of naval ship.

François Darlan

Jean Louis Xavier François Darlan (7 August 1881 – 24 December 1942) was a French admiral and political figure. He was admiral of the fleet and Chief of Staff of the French Navy in 1939 at the beginning of World War II. After France signed an armistice with Nazi Germany in 1940, Darlan served in the pro-German Vichy regime, becoming its deputy leader for a time. When the Allies invaded French North Africa in 1942, Darlan was the highest-ranking officer there, and a deal was made, giving him control of North African French forces in exchange for joining their side. Less than two months later he was assassinated.

Free French Naval Forces

Les Forces Navales Françaises Libres ("Free French Naval Forces") were the naval arm of the Free French Forces during the Second World War. They were commanded by Admiral Émile Muselier.

French Armed Forces

The French Armed Forces (French: Forces armées françaises) encompass the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Guard and the Gendarmerie of the French Republic. The President of France heads the armed forces as chef des armées.

France maintains the sixth largest defence budget in the world and the first in the European Union (EU). France has the largest armed forces in size in the European Union. France also maintains the world's third-largest nuclear deterrent (behind Russia and the United States).

French Naval Aviation

French Naval Aviation (often abbreviated in French to: « l'Aéronavale », or « Aviation navale » or more simply « l'Aéro ») is the naval air arm of the French Navy. The long-form official designation is Force maritime de l'aéronautique navale. Born as a fusion of carrier squadrons and the naval patrol air force, the Aéronavale was created in 1912. The force is under the command of a flag officer officially named Admiral of Naval Aviation (ALAVIA) with his headquarters at Toulon naval base. It has a strength of around 6,800 military and civilian personnel. It operates from four airbases in Metropolitan France and several detachments in foreign countries or French overseas territories. Carrier-borne pilots of the French navy do their initial training at Salon-de-Provence Air Base after which they undergo their carrier qualification with the US Navy.

French frigate Suffren

Suffren was a Suffren-class frigate of the French Navy, designed to protect a fleet against air threats, surface ships, submarines, and, to a lesser extent, provide firepower against land objectives. She is the sister-ship of Duquesne, and was decommissioned in 2001. She was the seventh French vessel named after the 18th century admiral Pierre André de Suffren; her artillery turrets are named after ships commanded by the marquis of Suffren: turret n°1 is named Héros ("hero") after the ship of the line Héros, and turret n°2 is named Fantasque, after the ship of the line Fantasque.

The French navy doesn't use the term "destroyer" for its ships; thus some large ships, such as Suffren, referred to as "frigates", are registered as destroyers. With her sister-ship, she was the first missile-launching destroyer of the French Navy. She was designed to protect the French aircraft carriers Foch and Clemenceau against air and submarine threats. In 2001, Suffren was put in the reserve, her machinery becoming too expensive to maintain.

The dome-like structure surrounding the DRBI23 radar is reminiscent of the Dutch Tromp-class guided missile frigates and has on occasion led to confusion when identifying between the two ship classes.

List of active French Navy ships

This is a list of active French Navy ships. The French Navy consists of the 86 vessel strong Force d'action navale (Naval action force) and the 10 submarines of the Forces sous-marines (Submarine force). Primary assets include 1 Nuclear aircraft carrier, 3 amphibious assault ships, 4 air-defence destroyers, 8 anti-submarine destroyers, 5 general-purpose frigates, and 6 surveillance frigates. The submarine force consists of 6 Nuclear attack submarines and 4 Nuclear ballistic missile submarines. To support the Force d'Action Navale at sea, the French Navy uses 3 replenishment oilers, 17 mine countermeasure vessels and 6 support ships. In addition to the above units, it operates 21 patrol ships, 5 survey vessels, 4 experimentation ships, 4 ocean tugboats and 14 training vessels.

The French Navy does not use the term "destroyer" in vessel names. Instead, surface combatants of the first rank (such as Horizon) are named "frigates", though they are registered as destroyers (with hull numbers "Dxxx").

List of shipwrecks in November 1942

The list of shipwrecks in November 1942 includes all ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during November 1942.

List of submarines of France

The submarines of France include nuclear attack submarines and nuclear ballistic missile submarines of various classes, operated by the French Navy as part of the French Submarine Forces.

Each French Navy vessel, including French submarines have for military awards and decorations their respective Fanions insignia.

Maritime Gendarmerie

The Maritime Gendarmerie (French: Gendarmerie Maritime) is a component of the French National Gendarmerie under operational control of the chief of staff of the French Navy. It employs 1,100 personnel and operates around thirty patrol boats and high-speed motorboats distributed on the littoral waterways of France. Like their land-based colleagues the Gendarmes Maritime are military personnel carry out policing operations in addition to their primary role as a coast guard service. They also carry out provost duties within the French Navy.

The uniforms and insignia of the Gendarmerie Maritime are very similar to those of the French Navy, but the ranks used are those of the rest of the Gendarmerie (which are the same as the traditional ranks of the French Cavalry).

Ranks in the French Navy

The rank insignia of the French Navy (French: Marine Nationale) are worn on shoulder straps of shirts and white jackets, and on sleeves for navy jackets and mantels. Until 2005, only commissioned officers had an anchor on their insignia, but enlisted personnel are now receiving them as well. Although the names of the ranks for superior officers contain the word "Capitaine" (Capitaine de corvette, Capitaine de frégate and Capitaine de vaisseau), the appropriate style to address them is "Commandant", "Capitaine" referring to "lieutenant de vaisseau", which is translated as lieutenant. The two highest ranks, Vice-amiral d'escadre and Amiral (Admiral), are functions, rather than ranks. They are assumed by officers ranking Vice-Amiral (Vice-Admiral).

The rank of Vice-Admiral of France (French: Vice-Amiral) was formerly designated as Lieutenant-General of the Naval Armies until 1791, such as in the Levant Fleet and Flotte du Ponant of the Ancien Régime. Major of the French Navy has a similar history to that of the former Lieutenant-General of the Naval Armies.

The only Amiral de la Flotte (Admiral of the Fleet) was François Darlan after he was refused the dignity of Admiral of France. Equivalent to the dignity of Marshal of France, the rank of Admiral of France remains theoretical in the Fifth Republic; it was last granted in 1869, during the Second Empire, but retained during the Third Republic until the death of its bearer in 1873. The title of Amiral de la Flotte was created so that Darlan would not have an inferior rank to that of his counterpart in the British Royal Navy, who was an Admiral of the Fleet.

Vice admiral

Vice admiral is a senior naval flag officer rank, equivalent to lieutenant general and air marshal. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral. In many navies, vice admiral is a three-star rank with a NATO code of OF-8, although in some navies like the French Navy it is an OF-7 rank, the OF-8 code corresponding to the four-star rank of squadron vice-admiral.

Vought F-8 Crusader

The Vought F-8 Crusader (originally F8U) is a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft built by Vought for the United States Navy and Marine Corps (replacing the Vought F7U Cutlass), and for the French Navy. The first F-8 prototype was ready for flight in February 1955. The F-8 served principally in the Vietnam War. The Crusader was the last American fighter with guns as the primary weapon, earning it the title "The Last of the Gunfighters".The RF-8 Crusader was a photo-reconnaissance development and operated longer in U.S. service than any of the fighter versions. RF-8s played a crucial role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, providing essential low-level photographs impossible to acquire by other means. U.S. Naval Reserve units continued to operate the RF-8 until 1987.

École Navale

The École Navale is the French naval academy, in charge of the education of the officers of the French Navy. They are educated at the academy for responsibilities onboard surface ships and submarines, in French Naval Aviation, with the fusiliers marins and commandos, and on the general staff.

The École Navale and its research institute (IRENAV) are in Lanvéoc-Poulmic, south of the roadstead of Brest.

Marine nationale
Parent unit
Components
Marine nationale
Command
Components
Equipment
History
Historic ships
Equipment of the French Navy
Naval Action Force
Submarine Forces
Strategic Oceanic Force
Naval aviation
Maritime forces
Land forces maritime component
Air forces maritime component
Current navies in Europe
Sovereign states

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