French warship dials 999 for training

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 4:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 4:00am

The French Navy surveillance frigate Prairial berthed in Kennedy Town yesterday as it began a five-day visit to the city with the first of three training sessions involving Hong Kong's emergency services.

A number of marine police officers boarded the warship in the afternoon to take part in role-play exercises.

Next Monday, the Prairial's crew will take part in diving exercises with the Fire Department and winching exercises with a Government Flying Service helicopter.

"Everywhere we go, we try to do some training involving local forces, be it military forces or civilian services and teams," Commanding Officer Frederic Daumas said.

The 93 crew includes 11 officers and 58 petty officers. The ship weighs 2,900 tonnes.

Hong Kong is a popular stopover for foreign naval ships. Last summer, the 40,000-tonne American warship USS Bonhomme Richard docked in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Next week, Prairial, which comes from the French word for meadow, will travel to the mainland city of Qingdao , between Shanghai and Beijing on the eastern coast, to take part in a three-day training exercise with the People's Liberation Army.

"This is a very good opportunity to train at sea in a multi- national environment," Daumas said. "We need to have these kinds of interaction because we need to meet each other and we need to know each other."

He added: "The large exercises are really a good opportunity. If a crisis occurs somewhere, and we need to work together for humanitarian assistance or disaster relief or other activities at sea, it's good to know each other and have worked with each other before."

Later today, the French sailors will take part in a remembrance ceremony at the Stanley military cemetery in Wong Ma Kok Road.

On Sunday, the frigate will hold an open day, allowing members of the public on board from 9am to 11am and from 2pm to 5pm.

The warship is docked at China Merchants Wharf in Kennedy Town.