The ship's load, which covered more than two thousand nautical miles between the ports of La Rochelle (France) and Paldiski (Estonia), included 12 of the iconic French Leclerc tanks as well as a range of armoured vehicles such as the 8-wheeled Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie (VCBI). There were also large transporter vehicles, recovery vehicles, trucks, trailers, and fuel tanks.
"There are many challenges from organising the use of a civilian port, unloading a vessel this size in a good time and using certain routes to the likes of Tapa with escort vehicles," said LT Jon Caulder from the eFP Battlegroup,
The UK, Estonia and France have different regulations and policies for doing this, but We work together to get the best solutions to ensure vehicles and equipment come off the ship, onto the port side and to their destination.
The UK consignment on board included armoured vehicles such as Warrior and Bulldog, field guns and 4×4 all-terrain vehicles. Both these and the French vehicles and equipment were off-loaded by a team of UK and Estonian movers. "The arrival of French troops and the rotation of UK unit gives us an opportunity to train reception procedures and to develop cross-nation cooperation. It is great that our allies have decided to use different modes of transportation to deploy to Estonia – using air, sea and land," stated MAJ Lauri Kiviloo, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Support Command's Movement and Transportation Service,
This provides us with a chance to test our interoperability in different transportation hubs and proves vividly, that moving allied units to Estonia is not hindered by the pandemic.
Leclerc main battle tank disembarking in Estonia / Photo by Estonian Defence Forces PAO
Heavy armoured equipment disembarking in Estonia / Photo by Estonian Defence Forces PAO