Multipurpose Amphibious Assault Ship USS Bataan Hosts French Aviators, Engineers

Multipurpose Amphibious Assault Ship USS Bataan Hosts French Aviators, Engineers

Multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) hosted French aviators and engineers interested in the capabilities of the MV-22 Osprey Jan. 14.

A small group of French aviators and aircraft specialists flew out to USS Bataan while the ship was transiting the Strait of Bonifacio in order to inspect the Ospreys of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM 263), and to see how they are operated and maintained onboard an amphibious ship.

“The French came to see what the Osprey can do, and how much space it takes up on the ship,” said Lt. Philip Gift, assistant air officer. “They’re interested in the relationship with the ship, and if there would be any changes if Ospreys landed on a French ship.”

The United States is currently the only country flying the Osprey, but the French military has expressed some interest in its use as well. The visit to Bataan is a step in the process of deciding if combined operations would allow Ospreys to operate from French amphibious ships in the future. The French amphibious navy currently relies predominantly on helicopters for its embarked aviation assets. Although American CH-53 Sea Stallions have landed aboard French Mistral-class ships in 2007, the Osprey’s higher speeds and ranges, coupled with its load carrying and personnel delivery capability, would add another dimension to inter-fleet operations.

“The Osprey has added a great deal of additional flexibility and capability to amphibious operations, and we are very glad to show our French guests its operating requirements and characteristics are,” said Capt. Erik M. Ross, commanding officer, Bataan. “The Sailors and Marines on the flight deck are always pleased to have an opportunity to display what they can do.”

The visit included a tour of the flight deck and hangar bay for the French guests, and then they flew off the ship as she continued on her way home from a ten-and-a-half month deployment which began three months earlier than expected on March 23rd.

Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Naval Today Staff , January 18, 2012; Image: navy