UK, France, US sign submarine cooperation agreement

United Kingdom, France and the United States are stepping up their submarine cooperation with an agreement signed by the three countries’ naval leaders on June 1.

The agreement outlines anti-submarine warfare activities of the three countries as they operate in waters of Western Asia.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan signed the trilateral agreement with Vice Adm. Louis-Michel Guillaume, commander, French Submarine and Strategic Oceanic Forces (ALFOST) and Rear Adm. Robert K. Tarrant, commander, Operations of the Royal Navy, at Donegan’s headquarters in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

This agreement follows the signing of a document by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, First Sea Lord of the United Kingdom Adm. Sir Philip Jones, and French Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Christophe Prazuck, in London March 27.

In that document, the three chiefs of their respective navies affirmed their commitment to enhanced interoperability.

“We believe this increased trilateral cooperation will help secure a future that is not only in the interests of our three nations, but in the common interests of our allies, partners and all like-minded nations who are committed to peace, prosperity and maritime security,” an excerpt from the statement read.

“This agreement expands upon the 2017 trilateral maritime talks between the leaders of our respective navies and codifies a practical framework on how we will operate in the 5th Fleet area of operations when it comes to coordinating anti-submarine warfare operations,” Donegan said. “This agreement lays the groundwork for executing more operations together and enhancing cooperation in the undersea domain. The end result is safer, more effective operations that work in the best interest of all three countries.”

The U.S., U.K. and French navies regularly operate together in the 5th Fleet. France has deployed its nuclear aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle twice to the Arabian Gulf in support of operation Inherent Resolve.

In 2015, a French admiral, embarked on Charles de Gaulle, commanded NAVCENT’s Task Force (TF) 50, a U.S. task force. A Royal Navy admiral also assumed command of TF 50 last November while embarked aboard the amphibious helicopter carrier HMS Ocean. Additionally, both navies have had ships serving as part of TF 50 and with the Combined Maritime Forces in the region.

U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.