Guernsey Press

French minehunter takes break from patrols

A FRENCH minehunter was berthed in St Peter Port Harbour this weekend, in a visit rescheduled from January.

The Sagittaire carries divers who can be deployed to examine any objects she discovers. (Pictures by Sophie Rabey, 33102602)

FS Sagittaire and its 45 crew members arrived on Saturday morning for crew rest time and a technical stop port visit.

The vessel is due to leave for Cherbourg today.

Based in Brest – the home of the French navy – FS Sagittaire is a 52-metre long Tripartite class minesweeper commissioned in 1996.

She operates in waters around the UK regularly, and takes part in various exercises and training as part of France’s membership of Nato.

Captain Pol Maurickx, the commanding officer of the FS Sagittaire. (33102592)

She has sailed to Guernsey on several occasions in the past, and was meant to visit in January, but that trip was cancelled due to bad weather.

Captain Pol Maurickx said that the boat and crew had most recently left Brest two weeks ago, and had spent time patrolling the coastline of southern Brittany.

‘Most of what we do involves trying to find mines from the Second World War,’ he said.

‘The boat has a very good sonar system and also some remote vehicles which we can put on the sea bed and have a closer look at what we find.

‘We also have divers on board who can go down, identify if it’s something that needs to be got rid of, and then intervene if needed.’

He said that the vessel had spent most of its life patrolling the English Channel, mainly along the French coast.

However, he said that occasionally it had gone further afield.

The visit was a chance for the 45 crew to have a rest. (33102590)

‘It’s been north up to the Baltic Sea, and has even been as far as the Indian Ocean too.’

He added that his crew was looking forward to spending the weekend in Guernsey.

‘I’m pleased that we have been able to make it this time after what happened in January. Many of the crew, including myself, have visited before and we always like to come back, especially when the weather is good like today.’