French and Italian ships dock in Świnoujście -
French and Italian ships dock in Świnoujście
Date of publication: 03.06.2023
The Italian missile destroyer ITS Caio Duilio and the French tanker FS Somme entered the Świnoujście Naval Port on May 31. The working visit was an opportunity for the sailors to rest and replenish their supplies, as well as meet with the Polish Navy's command staff.

After the mooring, the commanding officer of the French ship, Lieutenant-Commander Löic Menard, together with Colonel Jérôme Mallard, Defense Attaché from the Embassy of the French Republic in Poland (Ambassade de France en Pologne) paid an official visit to the command of the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla. The guests were met with the commander of the Swinoujscie unit, kmdr. Piotr Sikora. The guests were acquainted with the statutory activities of the flotilla and its equipment. It was also an opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss current affairs.

The allied visit was also an opportunity to integrate among sailors. A mini-football tournament was organized, during which the teams of the sailors from 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla, the crews of ITS Caio Duilio and FS Somme faced each other. The winners of the competition turned out to be the hosts of the event, and all teams were awarded commemorative medals.

An Italian Navy missile destroyer (Marina militare) was sent to Poland for a six-month mission under an agreement between the Polish and Italian heads of the Ministry of Defense. It entered the Naval Port of Gdynia on May 20, spending several days there. During this time, the unit's crew was able to rest and prepare for their statutory duties. The Caio Duilio, by virtue of its designation to combat air threats, will provide anti-aircraft support for the defense of the Polish coast, as well as interact with the 3th Ship Flotilla and the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla. 

The FS Somme is a Durance-class supply ship designed to transport fuel and refuel allied surface vessels. If necessary, it can also serve as a command vessel with a staff embarked on it. It entered service in 1990. It is 157.2 meters long and 21.2 meters wide. Its standard displacement is 7,900 tons, but when loaded with fuel it reaches up to 18,800 tons. Despite this, it reaches speeds as high as 19 knots. The crew consists of 162 officers and sailors. It is powered by two 2 SEMT Pielstick 16 PC2.5 V 400 diesel engines and two 15,000 kW shafts. It uses two DRBN 34 radars as data processing systems. Despite its purpose as a support vessel, it is armed with a Bofors 40 mm (1.6 in)/L60 gun automatic anti-aircraft gun, four M2 Browning 12.7 mm machine guns and three Simbad Mistral anti-aircraft missile launchers.

The FS Somme belongs to a series of five units named after important battles in French history. Today only it and the twin FS Marne remain in service. The prototype FS Durance was sold to the Argentine Navy in 1999, serving as the ARA Patagonia (B-1), while the other FS VAR and FS Meuse have been withdrawn from service. It is likely that the remaining tankers will be replaced by new Jacques Chevallier-class ship, four in number, which have been under construction since 2021, and the first of which entered service this year. FS Somme will probably be in service until 2027, when the French Navy will receive the third ship in the new series, Émile Bertin.

The international visit is part of a string of numerous entries of allied ships into Polish ports in Gdańsk, Gdynia, Szczecin and Świnoujście. Among the recent visitors were frigates from the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG-1), the mine destroyer FS Sagittaire, as well as five French Leopard-type training ships. This is an opportunity to strengthen ties between allied navies and exchange experiences. It also demonstrates the preparedness of the naval infrastructure to receive and handle large ships. It remains an important experience because of the plans to rebuild the Polish naval forces, which are to be equipped in the future with new mine destroyers of the Kormoran 2 type, electronic reconnaissance ships of the Delfin program, multi-role frigates of the "Miecznik" program and submarines of the "Orka" program.

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