|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Apr 30, 2017 06:02 AM EDT|
(Photo : French Navy) Mistral (L9013).
The French Navy amphibious assault ship Mistral (L9013) arrived April 29 at the U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo naval base in Nagasaki Prefecture ahead of a joint exercise and powerful show of force aimed at frightening China. She will conduct this show of force with the U.S. Navy; the Royal Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in waters off Guam.
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The visit of the 21,000 metric ton Mistral, the lead-ship in the three-ship Mistral class, is bound to anger China as warships from four of the world's most powerful navies -- all challenging China's claim to own the South China Sea -- are simultaneously gathered in Japan.
Mistral will lead exercises next month near Guam along with warships from her three partners. The allied navies will practice amphibious landings around Tinian, an island about 2,500 km south of Tokyo. The quadrilateral naval exercise will be held from May 3 to 22.
Mistral will be joined later on by the stealth frigate Courbet (F712).
The exercise "is designed to strengthen and to enhance trust and cooperation among the participating countries," said a statement from the Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Force.
Mistral forms part of an amphibious task force mission named the Jeanne d'Arc, which France describes as "a potent support to French diplomacy."
Japan and the United States are worried by China's efforts to exercise unilateral control over the South China Sea, a concern shared by France, which controls several Pacific islands, including New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
Tinian is one of the three main islands in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a territory of the U.S. It was from Tinian that the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber of the U.S. Army Air Force, took off on Aug. 6, 1945 to drop the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
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