PHNOM PENH: From March 24 to 28, 2023, the French Frigate de Surveillance (FS) Prairial will be in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. This stopover, organized after a long period at sea, will be an opportunity to strengthen the ties between the French and Cambodian armed forces.
The last French stopover in Cambodia was in 2016, and the stopovers planned for 2020-2021 could not take place due to Covid-19 restrictions. The docking of the Prairial is therefore a new example of the dynamic relationship between France and Cambodia.
The Prairial is a Floréal class frigate, based in Papeete and belonging to the Armed Forces in French Polynesia commanded by Rear Admiral Geoffroy d’Andigné. Dedicated to a wide range of missions such as sovereignty missions in the French exclusive economic zones or missions of aid to populations or cooperation, she is 94 meters long, has a crew of about one hundred, and carries a Dauphin helicopter. The Prairial is involved in the fight against illegal fishing in international waters, as well as in the EEZs of Pacific Island countries.
It regularly carries out missions in Asia to assert the French attachment to the respect of international law and the freedom of navigation in common areas. The crew will interact with the armed forces of ASEAN countries, Korea and Japan, thus reinforcing its military interoperability with the navies of these partner countries. In this context, it has already conducted a training exercise (PASSEX) with the Philippine Coast Guard. In Sihanoukville, the stopover will be an opportunity for interaction between French and Cambodian sailors, such as tactical demonstrations, but also moments of conviviality with the organization of a football match.
The frigate Prairial’s stopover is part of the French strategy in the Indo-Pacific. France is a sovereign nation of the Indo-Pacific, where it has 7 overseas territories, 1.6 million citizens, and 7,000 military personnel stationed in the region.
This area also represents approximately 93% of its Exclusive Economic Zones. France’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific is reflected in four main areas: security and defense, economy, multilateralism, and the rule of law, as well as climate change and sustainable ocean management.
France is working to further develop its partnerships and presence in this region of the world. These priorities are shared by the European Union and have been materialized in the European strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
The Prairial making a port call in Cambodia illustrates the strengthening of Franco-Cambodian relations, marked this year by high-level visit exchanges. It is also a result of the deepening of France’s partnership with ASEAN.
France is now an Observer Member of two of the ADMM+ Experts Working Groups, including the one devoted to maritime security: this is a recognition of France’s commitment to regional security and of its support for the regional security architecture, of which ASEAN is at the center.