From April 20 to 25, 2020, in coordination with the pre-deployment operational upgrade of the frigate La Fayette, a detachment comprising seven sailors and a Dauphin "N" helicopter landed on the ship off Toulon.
This very first embarkation of a Dauphin “N” marks the culmination of the long process to marinize these aircraft which began in 2013. Modifications include administrative and technical work allowing the helicopter to be operated at sea. This decision was taken in particular to prepare for the withdrawal of active service of the Alouette III helicopters, and to limit the risk of capacity disruption before the arrival of the new HIL light inter-service helicopter.
In view of the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented context in which this embarkation takes place makes it all the more emblematic. From the preparation phase, drastic measures were taken both by the ship and by the detachment to minimize the risk of contamination during this trip at sea.
This embarkation offers the crew of La Fayette the opportunity to benefit from a helicopter detachment which presents notable differences with the Panther, and thus to demonstrate its adaptability, and in addition to resume advances, in particular with the deck-landing qualification of an additional crew of Flottille 35F. It symbolizes the dynamics of re-appropriation of Naval Action Force vessels, which should increase with the imminent arrival of the interim fleet of Dauphin Ns.