America First – but not alone: France operates the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the world other than the United States. The French Navy’s flagship carrier, FS Charles de Gaulle, is also the only allied carrier equipped with the catapults that can launch US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft as well as its own Dassault Rafale fighters.
In mid-April the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group, took advantage of the rare opportunity to work with the French carrier group.
This joint training included having French Navy Eurocopter AS532 Cougar helicopters lowering cargo to the deck of the destroyer USS Laboon, while the Eisenhower operated miles away. “That’s what interoperability means,” said Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, speaking by phone from the Eisenhower.
The Daily Press reported:
It’s an exercise that involves more than the challenges of coordinating operations of one carrier, the Eisenhower, operating in the open expanse of the Arabian Sea, and another, the de Gaulle, in the narrow waters of the Gulf, Robertson said.
And while multiple-carrier operations may seem like exercises from eight decades ago and the World War II battles of Midway and the Coral Sea, they still serve a vital strategic need, Robertson said.
“A single carrier can operate run around the clock operations for a few days without burning out sailors, but with two carriers we can go 24/7 for as long as it takes … One carrier can do daytime operations, the other, the nighttime,” he said.
Both carriers, too, can handle the other’s jets should they run into trouble — that’s also what interoperability means, Robertson said.
“Those who might want to create an unstable environment in this part of the world will think again when there’s a carrier strike group in the neighborhood, or in this case when there’s two,” Robertson said.
That’s travail d’équipe – teamwork. Allons-y!