French naval ship plays host to medal ceremony in Cape Town
As part of its first (and final) port call to Cape Town, the French amphibious supply ship La Grandiere played host to the award of a Legion d’Honneur medal to a British World War II veteran residing in Cape Town. Arriving in Table Bay Harbour from her home port of Port-des-Galets in La Réunion on 28 May 2016, La Grandière, a landing ship with amphibious qualities, is the last ship of its kind in the French Navy and is on her way to France to be decommissioned. Commissioned on 21 January 1987, the Batral-class La Grandière was the last of five similar ships built for the French Navy, spending its entire service life in the Indian Ocean providing missions such as sovereignty, supply of the Eparses Islands (Mozambique channel), deployment of troops and contribution to the French diplomacy by representation and cooperation as part of the French Armed Forces of South Indian Ocean (FAZSOI). She regularly exercised with forces from nearby countries such as Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and South Africa. Although her first time in Cape Town, La Grandière has visited both Durban and Richards Bay numerous previously, the most recent being in September/October last year for joint maritime exercise Oxide between South Africa and France. An award ceremony was held aboard on Wednesday 1 June 2016 in honour of Leonard Harries (91), a former British soldier who was awarded La Legion d’Honneur for his efforts in Normandie, France, during the Second World War in 1944. He is a British citizen residing in South Africa.