This is the second edition of the PASSEX drills between the two nations. The previous one was conducted in 2010, also attended by a large number of vessels and seamen. The earlier edition was held near the French port city of Brest, which saw the participation of the Russian heavy missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy, in addition to a number of French naval vessels.
The Russian Navy’s spokesman for the Northern Fleet, 2nd rank Captain Yevgeny Kirillov informed the media that this edition of the war games saw the participation of the Russian Ropucha I Class Large Amphibious Assault Ship, Alexander Otrakovsky. He also added that the French frigate De Grasse, a F67 type large high-sea warship of the French Marine Nationale (FMN) also took part in the operations.
Russian authorities claimed that the French vessel, De Grasse made a visit to the Russian Naval Base located in the city of Severomorsk, Murmask Provice. The Russian vessel, Pyotr Velikiy had made a similar visit to the French port of Brest two years ago.
The Alexander Otrakovsky is one of the 28 Ropucha large landing crafts built by the Soviet shipbuilders, for use during the cold war. The 4,000 tonne vessel is capable of attaining maximum speeds of up to 18 knots. It is having an effective operational range of 6,000 miles, and is operated by a crew of 87. The armament includes MLRS A-215 Grad-M and MANPADS Strela-2 missiles.
The French frigate De Grasse was commissioned in to the FMN in 1975. The vessel is named after François Joseph Paul de Grasse, the French admiral who defeated the British forces in the Battle of Chesapeake. Capable of speeds up to 32 knots, the 4,600 tonne vessel is operated by a crew of close to 300 personnel. The armament includes Exocet MM38 anti-ship missiles and Crotale EDIR CIWS anti-air missiles.