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Mistral-class ship with Russian crew arrives in Saint-Nazaire after training voyage

September 22, 2014, 7:52 UTC+3 SAINT-NAZAIRE (France)
A total of 250 Russian seamen and at least 200 French specialists worked on board the Vladivostok for ten days
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©  EPA/Marcus Brandt

SAINT-NAZAIRE (France), September 22. /ITAR-TASS/. The Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok sailed into Saint-Nazaire harbor overnight to Monday after a training voyage with a Russian-French crew on board.

A total of 250 Russian seamen and at least 200 French specialists worked on board the Vladivostok for ten days. The helicopter carrier will now get a day-and-a-half rest before a second training voyage with a second Russian crew from September 23 to October 2.

About 400 Russian sailors arrived in Saint-Nazaire in late June for training in the use and operation of the new helicopter carrier which is under construction at the shipyard.

Upon the end of the training, and if France honours the contract, they will return to St. Petersburg in November aboard the ship, which after additional refitting will sail off to its homeport of Vladivostok.

Russia-France Mistral contract

Russia and France signed the 1.2 billion euro ($1.6 billion) contract for two French-built Mistral-class helicopter carriers in June 2011.

French President Francois Hollande said France had not suspended or cancelled the deal with Russia, but the delivery of the ships would depend on how the situation developed in eastern Ukraine which has been gripped by violence and fighting between militias and government troops for months.

He earlier assured Russia that his country would fulfill its obligations and hand over the first ship as scheduled but the work on the second one would depend on Moscow’s position on the Ukrainian crisis.

The second ship, Sevastopol, was laid down in June 2013 in Russia’s St. Petersburg, where the stern was built. It was towed to Saint-Nazaire early in September for completion. Under initial plans, Sevastopol was to be handed over to Russia at the end of 2015.

Mistral-class ships have a displacement of 21,000 tonnes. Maximum hull length is 210 metres and the ship can develop a speed of up to 18 knots with a cruising endurance of up to 20,000 miles.

The helicopter carrier can accommodate 450 people in addition to its crew of 180. It carries 16 helicopters, of which six can be simultaneously stored on the flight-deck, and can carry several dozen armoured vehicles.

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