French La Fayette-class frigate ‘Surcouf’ returns from counter-piracy mission

The French Navy’s La Fayette-class frigate FS Surcouf returned to her homeport at Toulon naval base on August 10 completing a three-month counter-piracy deployment.

Surcouf spent over 120 days with the Combined Maritime Forces’ CTF 150 patrolling the Indian Ocean intercepting traffickers between the Iranian-Pakistani coasts and East Africa.

During her time with CTF 150, Surcouf worked with warships and maritime patrol aircraft from France, Denmark and New Zealand, in addition Australian and British frigates and US destroyers.

The crew of Surcouf took part in seizing 500 kg of heroin in four interception operations.

Travelling 30,500 nautical miles during their deployment, the Surcouf crew performed 72 maritime surveillance flights, boarded 7 vessels and took part in 18 bilateral cooperation exercises.

The ship also made 12 stopovers in 8 countries welcoming 6 ambassadors aboard.

Surcouf is the second of five La Fayette-class frigates commissioned into the French Navy between 1996 and 2001. The 125-meter long vessels have a low radar signature thanks to their “stealth” design and radar-absorbent material.

They are general-purpose frigates armed with Exocet missiles, 100 mm and 20 mm guns, and the Crotale CN2 CIWS.

The ships are set to be equipped with an anti-submarine capacity, with the integration of a hull-mounted sonar and anti-torpedo countermeasures under a contract awarded awarded to Naval Group (formerly DCNS) by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) in May 2017.

The frigates’ current combat command system will be replaced by a version derived from the one used on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, the tactical data links will be modernised and the CROTALE anti-air warfare system will be replaced by 2 renovated SADRAL launchers.

The first modernized La Fayette frigate is expected to be delivered in 2021.