30th of July, 2019, 20 nautical miles off Cyprus: FNS Aconit identifies a suspicious ship. After VHF queries, the frigate prepares her VBSS (visit, boarding, search and seizure) team. Having ordered the vessel to stop, the sailors board and start checking the documents, soon moving on to a complete investigation. Hampered by the crew’s bad will, they nevertheless quickly find what they are looking for: heavy weapons and drug, cautiously dissimulated. Being able to conduct such actions at sea is an essential capability for any State which needs to control its waters.
It was, for this once, only an exercise, and the suspicious ship was no a dhow but Cyprus Naval Command’s OPV Ioannides. Interoperability and best practices sharing strengthened by this type of training, helped by the exchange of liaison officers, are real and ensure the efficiency of common action if and when a real mission would take place.
The exercises for the day also included the Aconit working in tandem with an AW-139 helicopter, which executed SCAs (ship-controlled approach) and TAGs (touch and go) on the frigate’s landing deck. Finally, both warships coordinated their evolutions during a sequence of tactical.
Such exercises, regularly conducted, demonstrate once more the excellent military cooperation between both navies, notably since the signature of an intergovernmental defense agreement in 2017. Allied support for the Marine Νationale’s deployments in the region, Cyprus regularly organises bilateral exercises with the French navy under different scenarios, from search and rescue to anti-surface warfare.