French Navy is erasing pennant numbers on its LHDs

According to information published by Mer et Marine on February 2, 2023, the French Navy is continuing its experiment aimed at "anonymizing" the French fleet in order to make its surface ships more difficult for an adversary to identify.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 French Navy's Mistral class LHD Mistral before the erasure. (Picture source: French MoD)

After starting with the multi-mission frigates (FREMM) at the end of 2022, starting with the Alsace and Provence, it is now the turn of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships (LHD) to see their hull markings disappear.

About the Mistral class

The Mistral class is a series of five amphibious assault ships built by France. These ships are also referred to as helicopter carriers and "projection and command ships".

They are designed to transport and deploy military personnel, equipment, and helicopters, making them ideal for a variety of missions including humanitarian relief operations, disaster response, and non-combatant evacuation operations.

Each Mistral-class ship has a displacement of 21,000 tonnes and is 199 meters in length. They are powered by four diesel engines and can reach a maximum speed of 19 knots.

The ships have a crew of 450 and can accommodate up to 16 heavy helicopters, landing barges, 70 vehicles, and 450 soldiers. They also have a 69-bed hospital onboard and can serve as part of NATO Response Force or with United Nations or European Union peace-keeping forces.

Currently, three Mistral-class ships are in service in the French Navy: Mistral, Tonnerre, and Dixmude. In 2010, a deal was signed to sell two ships to the Russian Navy, but it was postponed due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The two ships were later sold to Egypt.