Two French Warships Visit The Panama Canal
By Dialogo March 01, 2010Two French warships arrived in Panama on Friday to pass through the interoceanic canal on a training voyage for cadets from the French Naval Academy, diplomats announced. The helicopter carrier Jeanne d’Arc and the frigate Courbet have been on a voyage around the world since December with more than a hundred cadets enrolled in the French Naval Academy. They plan to pass through the Canal on Saturday, Jean-François Bazin, chargé-d’affaires at the French embassy in Panama, told AFP. During the short visit, cadets from different countries will exchange information about defense, piracy, the fight against drug trafficking, and illegal fishing, as part of the professional training of the future officers of the French navy. The two ships left Brest (France) on 2 December to visit Morocco, Senegal, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the United States, Canada, St. Pierre and Miquelon (a French overseas territory in the Atlantic, near Canada), Germany, and Belgium, before returning to Brest on 27 May. The Jeanne d’Arc, which carries 586 marines on board, including 103 French cadets, in addition to other students from the Netherlands, Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cameroon, Togo, Brazil, Spain, and Belgium, has taken part in multiple humanitarian missions and in the fight against piracy, forming part of the European ATALANTA deployment in the Indian Ocean in 2009. Nevertheless, this will be the last voyage for the Jeanne d’Arc, which has sailed 3.3 million kilometers (nine times the distance between the earth and the moon) since 1964. The Jeanne d’Arc is accompanied by the frigate Courbet, 125 meters in length, with more than 150 personnel on board, between officers and sailors.