From a distance, it looks like any other container ship. What makes it original is its load, invisible from the outside: 63 combat helicopters, 500 vehicles, 250 containers, as well as 350 soldiers from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade of the US Army.
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Leaving from Jacksonville, Florida, on June 27, the American freighter “Endurance” arrived, Tuesday evening, at the commercial port of La Rochelle, in front of the beach of Sablonceaux, on the island of Re, where were filmed, for the anecdote, scenes of the landing in the “Longest Day”. There, it is not cinema. Operation Musketeer, the name called this convoy, is itself part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, launched by the administration of Barack Obama in 2017 and continued by that of Donald Trump. Its objective is to strengthen the military shield in eastern Europe against Russia and, according to the Pentagon, “to improve the strategic flexibility of the United States in Europe”.
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For the first time, France thus becomes a hub for the transit of military equipment in the context of this operation. The opportunity for the American army to test the seaports of Western Europe, like that of La Rochelle, already used by the United States during the First and Second World War. The United States also wants to ensure that the ports on the Atlantic and Baltic coast (Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc.) are able to accommodate large quantities of equipment and provide logistics. .
This type of operation “makes it possible to test the mechanisms of military coordination and mobility between European countries” and thus “participate directly in the reinforcement of European capacities to conduct the orderly and simultaneous transfer of numerous military units and to organize their security in the event major crisis, “said the General Staff.
The equipment transported by “Endurance” will be transported with logistical assistance from the French army by rail from the Charentais port to Germany and then to Poland, its final destination. Only helicopters will fly to Poland by air. In addition to La Rochelle, some of the equipment will arrive in Bordeaux. The Rochefort and Cognac air bases will also be used.