The French navy said an amphibious assault ship the Tonnere and the frigate Surcouf left their home port of Toulon on Friday and traveled to the Pacific on a three-month mission.
The website Naval News reported that the ships will cross the South China Sea (known as the East Sea in Vietnam) twice and take part in a combined exercise with the Japanese and US militaries in May. Captain Arnaud Tranchant, commanding officer of the Tonnerre, told Naval News that the French navy will “work to strengthen” France’s partnership with the US, Japan, India and Australia – the so-called Quad.
Experts said France will further reinforce its opposition to China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea by increasing the frequency of its operations in the region.
The British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is also about to sail to the South China Sea.
The US Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz sailed alongside its sister ship, USS Theodore Roosevelt, in the South China Sea last Tuesday.