In what looked at first glance like a last desperate throw of the dice to dissuade we Welsh from leaving the EU – today the French Navy put on a show of force and sent in their warships to pay Pays de Galles a little “goodwill” visit.
The all-white French warship Laperouse steamed past Penarth this afternoon with an excort of tugs .
Laperouse is a hydrographic survey vessel which is named after the famous 18th century French navy commander who was appointed by King Louis XVI to lead a round-the-world scientific expedition. However almost everywhere Laperouse went, he found the British had got there first.
Frankly, as a show of force, today’s demonstration of maritime might was less than impressive . To misquote the movie “Jaws” – the French really needed “a bigger boat”.
If the matelots were planning to shiver any timbers in Penarth the good ship Laperouse wasn’t quite up to the job . She is barely any bigger than the tugs which escorted her in.
As naval custom and tradition dictate, the crew lined up at the bow to signify they had no hostile intent – at least on this particular visit. This occasion is all about hospitality. French hostility – no doubt – is being left for the Brexit negotiations.
Meanwhile the French sailors are evidently looking forward to spending “Le Weekend” in Cardiff to indulge in whatever the French for “entente cordiale” is.
Disappointingly for Muslim terrorists or Russian GRU holidaymakers, bringing up the rear of this mini French flotilla was the warship Aldebaran.
She is a “security ship” which provides “surveillance for French vessels accessing the Atlantic ports” and specialises in detecting and destroying anything that could detonate or damage vessels or harm naval crews.