The FS Charles de Gaulle (foreground) with the USS Boxer in the Andaman Sea. Navy photo

The San Diego-based amphibious assault ship USS Boxer trained with the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle last week in the Andaman Sea off the east coast of Thailand.

The two ships are roughly similar in size and both carry a mixture of jet fighters and helicopters. The training drills included formation sailing, combined flight operations and personnel transfers.

Joining the two flattops in the exercise were the French anti-submarine destroyer FS Latouche Treville, anti-submarine frigate FS Provence and underway replenishment tanker FS Marne.

“I am excited to work with America’s oldest ally, dating back to America’s Revolutionary War.” said Capt. Ronald Dowdell, the Boxer’s commanding officer. “Our countries have shared success throughout the decades and a good part of that success is due to our strong relationship. Today, we’re enhancing that relationship by stressing integration of our systems and capabilities.

The French Navy carrier strike group deployment is the first in the Indo-Pacific region since 2002.

“Exercises allow allied units to test and validate concepts, procedures, systems and tactics,” said French Rear-Admiral Marc Aussedat, Commanding Officer of Task Force 473. “That is why we seize each opportunity to plan exercises at sea with our allies and partners to increase our mutual knowledge and ability to work together.”

The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from San Diego on May 1 and are currently in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.