Our Friendly French Neighbors

Here in Lome (pronounced like Low-Meh), the Africa Mercy is docked at the main (and possibly only, not sure) port in Togo. 

We are fortunate to have the dock where we are relatively secure (blocked off with shipping crates and guarded).  This allows us a little more freedom to move around off ship and to have a staging ground for patients and all the Mercy Ships vehicles. 

On one side of us (port side, or left while facing the bow/front of the ship) we have the entire Togolese Navy. 

A couple of days ago, we were greeted by the French war ship, BPC Mistral, who is currently sharing the dock with us.   In the past several days, we have seen the ‘Frenchies’ training the Togolese Navy and Marines in water rescue, landing tactics and boarding techniques off our port side.  It’s been interesting watching them go back and forth in rubber speed boats, darting in and out of the traffic coming into the port. 

Just as we (the crew aboard the Africa Mercy) found them interesting, they found us interesting as well.  So, the captains and higher up officials talked and they arranged for some of the crew aboard each vessel to be able to tour the other ship.  So, this morning, I got the opportunity to board and tour the BPC Mistral. 

The BPC Mistral is a Force Protection and Command Ship, designed for supporting the front lines of combat.  It has the capability to engage in a number of missions, including amphibious operations, crisis management, air support operations, command and control, operational lift and medical support. 

It has a well-deck, which allows small amphibious transports to enter into the ship and load and unload troops and vehicles.  The ship can hold 110 armored vehicles or a squadron of 13 tanks, as well as 650 troops. 

In 2006 (?) the Mistral helped with the evacuation of Lebanon, setting itself up as a staging point for refugees.  On average, a thousand people were transported through the Mistral each day. 

The flight deck also has six helicopter landing platforms and is capable of storing 16 attack helicopters on ship (more if they are smaller). 

The ship also has a command area, where NATO and UN forces have often set up an operations center on board, capable of being a mobile headquarters for operations. 

The Mistral also has a hospital, with 69 beds (19 of which are ICU), 2 operating rooms and a X-ray room.  It can easily be expanded to 100 beds as a field hospital if the situation calls for it. 

In exchange for us touring their ship, a number of the officers will be touring the Africa Mercy in the next couple of days. 

While the BPC Mistral towers over the Africa Mercy in size, this is still home for the 400 crew and a place of refuge for the patients aboard. 

God Bless and PEACE

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