At the end of a day of conferences in Paris with the entire national session, the 9e On Thursday 7 December, the last train of the major "Maritime Challenges and Strategies" seminar left for Brest. Following a seminar in Toulon in mid-October, this visit to Brittany completes the overview of the challenges and resources facing the French Navy.
On Friday 8 December, after waking up rather early despite arriving late the previous evening, it was off to the Préfecture Maritime de l'Atlantique in Brest for a morning of lectures. After a round-table discussion on scientific research with Engineer General Kerléguer, Director General of the French Navy's Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (SHOM), and François Houllier, Chairman and CEO of IFREMER, Vice-Admiral Jean-François Quérat, Maritime Prefect for the Atlantic, presented all the functions assigned to him in a particularly wide geographical area. Discussions continued over lunch at the admiral's residence, in the presence of members of the staff and several officers from Brest.
In the early afternoon, under glorious sunshine, the major boarded two launches bound for the Ile Longue operational base, where they were welcomed by Vice-Admiral Jacques Fayard, Commander of the Strategic Oceanic Force. During this exceptional afternoon, the audience was able to visit a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine and take part in a discussion with Admiral Fayard.
On leaving Ile Longue, and before continuing on their way to Lorient, the listeners stopped off at the Pointe de Pen Hir, in the commune of Camaret, at the memorial erected in memory of the Bretons of Free France. There, in the presence of the mayor of Camaret-sur-Mer, the elected representatives of the major laid a wreath on behalf of the whole major in memory of Léon Gautier, the last of the Kieffer commandos to die in July, and the fighters of Free France. Nightfall and a gust of wind did nothing to dampen the emotion of this memorial ceremony.
Afterwards, the major headed back to Lorient, where she was expected at the residence of Rear-Admiral Pierre de Briançon, commander of the Force maritime des fusiliers marins et commandos (ALFUSCO). The dinner was an opportunity for the students to find out more about the marine fusiliers and commandos, and to explore a place steeped in history. The Villa Kerlilon, ALFUSCO's residence, still bears the scars of its occupation by Nazi Rear Admiral Dönitz during the Second World War.
After a short night's sleep and despite the very wet weather, it was nevertheless with great enthusiasm that the listeners discovered the naval air base at Lann Bihoué the following day. The visit, which gave the audience the opportunity to see three naval aviation aircraft in situ (a Hawkeye, an Atlantique 2 and a Falcon 50), was a perfect illustration of the discussions the audience had in Toulon in October with Rear-Admiral Bordarier, commander of the naval aviation force. The auditors were also given a presentation on coastguard customs.
To round off the seminar's lectures and visits, the auditors then travelled to the Naval Group shipyard, where they were able to visit the defence and intervention frigate (FDI) Amiral Ronarc'h currently under construction on the site. After lunch with two of Naval Group's representatives, the session moved on to the Maison de l'Agglomération, where the auditors were able to spend the afternoon by committee discussing the progress of their work and electing their chairmen, before getting back on the train in the evening.