THE DAY OF (OR, RATHER THE WEEKEND OF) THE JACKAL

The Jackal  “FS Chacal” passing Penarth Head this morning heading back home to  France

Penarth can breathe again – “The Jackal” – or perhaps we should say “Le Chacal” – has departed, without a single shot being fired. 

Anyone who was out and about this morning on Penarth seafront would have seen a mini-flotilla of 4 French warships passing Penarth after spending “Le Weekend” in Cardiff  “Pays de Gaulle”.

Just like the Royal Navy , France’s Marine Nationale also has female officers and the matelots still wear the traditional – allegedly lucky –  red pom-pom on their hats

Some may have jumped to the hasty conclusion that this was the just first wave of an EU pincer movement designed to stop we Welsh escaping from the European Union but this visit was entirely a “goodwill” affair … perhaps more than can be said for the climate in Brussels at the moment.

The Marine Nationale is still called informally “La Royale” – even though, as everyone knows, France dispensed with the services of its royal family in 1793.  The French Navy however is larger both in manpower and in the number of ships than the British Navy.

The French ensign is the similar to the tricolore – but has a darker-blue stripe

They may come in odd shapes and sizes but France has more warships than the Royal Navy

The French support Tender – in Cardiff to look after “The Jackal” and  the three other ships – visiting this weekend (Photo John Clark)

The ships visiting Cardiff were  FS LYNX  A751,  FS EGLANTINE  A771, FS LION  A755  and FS CHACAL A753  . “Chacal” , of course, is  French for “Jackal” – a name with a special resonance for fans of  Frederick Forsyth’s famous ’70s-era thriller “The Day of the Jackal” about a fictional pre-EU plot to top the then French President, General Charles de Gaulle – a politician notable for his post-war ingratitude to the British and who most definitely did not want Britain to join the Common Market in the first place.

Female matelots on the foredeck of FS Eglantine

It was allegedly Winston Churchill who – in planning his own funeral –  arranged for General de Gaulle to suffer the indignity of saluting his former war-time ally as his coffin was loaded aboard a steam-train at the exquisitely-named Waterloo Station.

However no such snub was administered to our French friends this morning as they bade “adieu” and “au revoir ” to Wales in brilliant weather which was easily a match for  the Riviera.

HMS Tyne passing Penarth Head and following the French fleet out to sea

However – just in case anyone was worried about what our Gallic cousins might have been getting up to in Pays de Galles – the Royal Navy’s  HMS TYNE was also in Cardiff Docks,  keeping them company. She departed Cardiff shortly after the French fleet.

HMS Tyne passing Penarth Pier this morning (Photo Robert Pickford)

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6 Responses to THE DAY OF (OR, RATHER THE WEEKEND OF) THE JACKAL

  1. Old sea dog says:

    Such a pity there is little or no coverage of these visits until after the vessels have sailed. I did notice the RN ship this morning from the new bypass and went over for a look, but by then it had gone.

    I would like to have seen them in port, or seen them set sail.

    Wales Online and BBC Wales seem more interested in Glastonbury than stuff actually happening in Wales.

  2. whatsoccurin says:

    Saw the ships in Cardiff on Friday-reminded me of the NATO week when I managed to get aboard the French warship-as we were leaving a lady, in GCSE French asked a a young sailor “a quel hour vous departez Cardiff” (when are you leaving)-the sailor politely said that he spoke English and the lady suddenly started bellowing in a very loud voice as though he was deaf-very British-made me laugh!

  3. Old sea dog says:

    They’ll rarely disclose the time of departure ‘for security reasons’, but it a quick look at high tide times usually gives a clue in these parts.

    Except in the case of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has to depart the River Forth at extremely low tide to fit under the bridges. Let’s hope her navigator does a better job than the bloke on HMS Astute who steered it onto a sandbank off the Isle of Skye on its sea trials.

    • whatsoccurin says:

      great spot old sea dog-the Barrage website usually says “closed due to MOD activity”-that’ll confuse the Russians!

  4. Young sea dog says:

    To find Information regarding Cardiff Shipping Arrivals / Departures Sailing times and lots more go to ABP CARDIFF SHIPPING MOVEMENTS. This also includes visiting Naval Vessels. Hope this helps good luck John

    • Old sea dog says:

      Yes -but I expect to receive such news from a news website or social media feed. In a Whatsoccurin’ sort of way.

      I don’t want to trawl through loads of websites to find what’s on locally and I expect news media to provide local news.

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