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The French Marine Nationale Horizon class air defence destroyer Chevalier Paul. Alamy Stock Photo
safety warning

Warning for Irish seafarers as major French military exercise planned off south-west coast

French authorities have advised it will be a missile and rocket firing operation.

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has issued a safety warning to seafarers and aircraft pilots of a major French military exercise in the Irish Exclusive Economic zone later this month. 

The Department of Transport issued the warning today having been informed by the Irish Aviation Authority of the exercise. 

The warning said that the French authorities had advised it will be a large-scale missile and rocket firing operation.

The exercise – like the planned Russian one from earlier this year - will take place outside of Irish territorial waters but inside the much larger Exclusive Economic Zone, which is patrolled by Irish Naval ships and Air Corps Casa aircraft.

French, British and other NATO forces have carried out exercises off the Irish coast in the past.
NATO nations hold regular exercises with partner countries testing their military interoperability.

“The Department of Transport has been advised by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) of a missile/rocket firing exercise by the French military in part of the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the South-West of Ireland,” today’s notice read.

“The exercise is scheduled to take place between 23 June and 25 June 2022 from 02h00 to 16h00 each day. However, the exercise may be postponed to take place at the same time on another date within the period 24 June to 7 July, excluding weekends.

“The exercises will be undertaken in part of the Irish EEZ.  Given the nature of the planned exercises, vessels and crew are advised of safety risks in the operational area,” the department advised.

Security sources said that the area, which encompasses only part of the Irish EEZ, is much larger than the previous planned Russian exercise because of “the safety radius” of the weapons which extends from the French EEZ.  

Essentially, part of the Irish area of responsibility is being used as the missiles being tested by the French will extend beyond the area of the French zone. 

Screenshot (195) A chart showing the site of the French exercise. Department of Transport Department of Transport

The French navy has a massive naval base in Brest located close to the exercise location. 

Russian forces carried out similar operations en route to invade Ukraine in February – that prompted an international incident between Ireland and Russia. 

The Russians had initially sought to hold the exercise in the Irish EEZ but after an intervention from the Irish Government the operation was moved.

There was also a group of West Cork fishers who met the Russian Ambassador Yuriy Filatov to raise concerns. 

The French embassy has been contacted for comment. 

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