Mission Mumbai

Published: Oct 27, 2012, 07:01 IST | Hemal Ashar |

The Dupleix, a French Anti-Submarine Warship (ASW) is in Mumbai to conduct training exercises with the Indian Navy. On board the war vessel, Capt. Raynal talks about spotting enemy submarines and why a dip in piracy numbers needs to be welcomed warily

Bonjour (French for good day) and Namaste came together on the seas as French Navy warship, FS Dupleix called at Mumbai’s Indira Docks (Carnac Bunder) Port recently. The Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) FS Dupleix is in Mumbai till October 30, conducting a training exercise with the Indian Western fleet.

This one’s you, Mumbai: A party on the Dupleix, as the outline of a helicopter is visible on the warship’s helipad. Her main weapon system against submarines is the airborne MU-90 torpedo, launched at a stand off position by the WG13 Lynx helicopter. Pics/Suresh KK   

On Thursday, October 25 evening, even as the heavy traffic at the impossibly crowded Carnac Bunder rumbled outside, the FS Dupleix opened its heart of steel to some visitors. There was a small cocktail party aboard the Navy ship, wine glasses and champagne flutes stood on a table, next to a helicopter on the warship’s helipad.

French toast: Commander Philippe Laurent, the Defense Attaché, French Embassy (Delhi), next to the chopper on board the Dupleix. Attaché is a French term in diplomacy. It usually denotes an official, who serves either as a diplomat or as a member of the support staff. Sometimes an attaché has special responsibilities, These include a cultural attaché, labour attaché, legal attaché, military/defense attache

Guns on the ship stood like silent sentinels, looking at the action on the Mumbai port. Captain Luc Raynal, (44), said that this exercise, “underlines the long-standing partnership between the two countries.”

Women at work: Petty Officer Riahi on board the Dupleix. She took pains to translate her rank from French to English for this newspaper and wrote down her name in this reporter's notebook, to avoid mistakes. Thanks officer.   

When asked specifically about anti-submarine warfare and whether it was becoming more difficult to track down submarines, Capt. Raynal said, “There are certainly more submarines in the world no,w with more countries investing in them as weapons and assets in warfare. They are more silent, more difficult to detect and track with enhanced technology. So, what we need to do is evolve and upgrade to keep up with them. By its very nature it is challenging to track a submarine as it is operating underwater in a discreet, invisible environment.”

Anri-Submarine warefare wise: Capt. Luc Raynal makes a point. The Capt. is also an enthusiastic mountain hiker and is humourously described as a golfer with a hopeless drive!   

When asked whether recent reports citing the drop in the number of piracy incidents was reason to cheer, Raynal was cautious. “Piracy incidents have dropped since last year but we still need to hold that applause. It is not yet established whether this is a trend or just an operational pause.

Flag flies high: A ceremony on the Dupleix, on Thursday, October 25 evening

We have seen that the pirates have the capacity to evolve and adapt very quickly to new situations.” Going by sheer numbers in piracy, “the Horn of Africa is still one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world,” finished Raynal. (The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden).

After this, the Dupleix sets sail for Seychelles to carry out anti-piracy patrols. The Indian and French Navy has come together in a cocktail. The pirates certainly won’t be saying cheers to that.  

What is Anti-Submarine Warfare?
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW, or in older form A/S) is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines. Like many forms of warfare, successful anti-submarine warfare depends on a mix of sensor and weapon technology, training, experience and luck. Sophisticated sonar equipment for first detecting, then classifying, locating and tracking the target submarine is a key element of ASW. To destroy submarines both the torpedo and mine are used, launched from air, surface and underwater platforms. Other means of destruction have been used in the past but are now obsolete. ASW also involves protecting friendly ships.

About the ship
The FS ASW Destroyer Dupleix was commissioned in 1981. Her main purpose is anti-submarine warfare. She has been upgraded several times. Within the past few years especially, Dupleix received the latest satellite communication system called Syracuse III, a modern hull mounted sonar V4110 and newly-developed anti-submarine torpedoes.

Dupleix Duty
During more than 30 years of activity, the FS ASW Destroyer Dupleix took part in several crisis operations especially off Lebanon, in the Persian Gulf, in the Red Sea and off Somalia. She also took part in humanitarian relief operations. More recently, the ship took part in the Libyan conflict.


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