French Intelligence Vessel Transits The Taiwan Strait

Last week Taiwan’s state media confirmed the passage of the 3,600 ton Marine Nationale Auxiliary, General Intelligence vessel Dupuy-de-Lôme through the Taiwan Strait. The French announcement of the strait transit follows French Defense Minister Florence Parly statement that “France would use its navy to demonstrate an adherence to international law and freedom of navigation”. Parly did not give a specific date or time as to when Dupuy conducted the strait passage. Parly’s announcement was a response to a question asked by a senator on the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Services Committee. The senator, Oliver Cadic, asked if any action had been taken to enforce France’s support for the cross strait status quo. Cadic has recently returned from a five day trip to Taiwan, where he and other French senators met with Taiwanese lawmakers who emphasized the need for France to help ensure the stability of the Taiwan Strait.With cross strait tensions reaching new thresholds, clear diplomatic support quickly followed up by a visible demonstration of resolve is both welcoming and reassuring for Taiwan.

The Dupuy-de-Lôme was built in the Netherlands with construction ending in 2004, she then entered service with the Marine Nationale in 2006. Designed for Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) gathering operations, her missions are tasked for intercepting and analyzing radio, radar, and even satellite communications and signals. She is equipped with a range of communitcation interception antennas. Her operations are directed by the Direction du renseignement militaire or DRM (Directorate of Military Intelligence).

Her deployment began in May, and she has been spotted operating in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, Sea of Japan, and Philippine Sea, making port calls in Guam and Japan over the course of her deployment. Her strait transit occurred after HMS Richmond made her transit and a week after a large multinational, multiple carrier task force formed in the Philippine Sea, where multiple vessels broke into other task forces and began operating in the South China Sea shortly after.