PARIS, November 18. /TASS/. A spokesman for French shipbuilder DCNS refused on Tuesday to confirm reports on plans to float out the second Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, built for Russia in Saint-Nazaire.
“We are not spreading any information on the process of works on the Mistral ships being built under a contract signed with Russia,” spokesman Emmanuel Godez said.
The French corporation also refused to comment on media reports that the Russian crew, which has been trained in Saint-Nazaire, has no access to the Vladivostok vessel.
Russia and France signed a contract on the construction of Mistral helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy in June 2011. The first ship, the Vladivostok, was floated out in October 2013. In September 2014, despite the fact that issue of its handing over to Russia was still unsettled, the ship sailed off for trials with Russian sailors aboard. The Vladivostok was supposed to have been handed over to Russia on November 14.
The ceremony, however, has been cancelled at the request from Paris. French President Francois Hollande said that full observation of the ceasefire regime in eastern Ukraine was the key condition for the Mistral’s delivery to Russia. The second Mistral, the Sevastopol, was expected to be commissioned next year. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls however said that the delay in the Vladivostok’s handing over to Russia did not mean that cancellation of the contract.
The sum total of the Mistral contract is 1.12 billion euro. In case the contract is frustrated, France will have to pay a giant sum in cancellation penalty.