On 1 June, the French Navy’s Bâtiment de Projection et de Commandement (Projection and Command Vessel, BPC) “Tonnerre” and the British Royal Navy's amphibious warfare ship HMS Lyme Bay docked in the port of La Rochelle to begin a bilateral expeditionary force exercise called “Catamaran 18.”
This Franco-British exercise is a continuation of the bilateral military activities that have been going on since the signing of the Lancaster House Treaty (2010), with a view in particular to standing up one of its flagship projects, the creation of a bilateral Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.
Over the next 15 days, the French and British will therefore be maneuvering together in a large-scale, joint combined forces exercise that will bring together the French Navy and Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Nearly 2,000 men and 14 warships from both countries will form Task Group 471.01 under the command of Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas and Brigadier General Pierre Schill, who commands the embarked troops. The FS Tonnerre will be the flagship of this force. On the equipment side, 140 vehicles will embark on the two amphibious warfare ships.
After a ramping-up period with training for landing on beaches in the Gulf of Morbihan, the landing force will undertake a tactical armored assault from the Quiberon Peninsula to Coëtquidan military camp.
The objectives of the exercise are many: to validate the concepts of use of the forces, to reinforce the interoperability of the equipment and of the command systems used by the two nations and finally, to train the amphibious component of an expeditionary force to the conduct of an assault from the sea.
Catamaran 2018 is one of the major exercises aimed at operationalizing the bilateral CJE.