INTRODUCTION Three more french naval vessels have arrived in Djibouti to augment their regular force in preparation for naval exercises in the Indian Ocean.
INTRODUCTION Three more french naval vessels have arrived in Djibouti to augment their regular force in preparation for naval exercises in the Indian Ocean. The spearhead of the visiting ships was the aircraft carrier 'Clemenceau'.
SYNOPSIS: Djibouti, the French Navy's Indian Ocean home port in the Territory of the Afars and Issas's strategically important as Ethiopia's gateway to the Red Sea.
A key vessel in the exercises is 'La Charante', the supply tanker which is also the flagship of the Officer Commanding the Indian Ocean Forces.
France has built up its navy in the Indian Ocean to compensate for two contrasting factors there-a much-reduced British presence, and far more Soviet warships.
The Clemenceau is one of the French Navy's three aircraft carriers. Almost 800 metres long, she has a crew of 1,300 as well as a large group of marine commandoes. She can steam at up to 32 knots. Her complement of 40 aircraft is divided into three flights of French-built fighters.
France is pushing ahead quickly to grant independence to the Afars and Issas in june this year.
After independence, France will maintain its naval base and Foreign Legion force in Djibouti, the capital. It is the remaining-and vital-Western hold on the Horn of Africa, where Soviet influence has grown in recent years, troubling pro-western countries in the area, notably Saudi Arabia. Soviet strength lies mainly in neighbouring Somalia.