The French Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, also known as CECMED (French for Commandant en chef pour la Méditerranée) is a French Armed Forces regional commander. He commands the zone, the region and the Mediterranean maritime arrondissements. He is usually an admiral of the French Navy, and is under the direct authority of the French Chief of the Defence Staff. The current position is held by Admiral Yann Tainguy.
The admiral known as 'CECMED' » today has three distinct functions. He is at once:
- Commander of the région and the Mediterranean maritime arrondissement,
- Maritime Zone commander,
- Maritime Prefect for the Méditerranean.
Today the main French naval combat force in the Mediterranean is the Force d'action navale (FAN), headquartered at Toulon. The Admiral commanding the Naval Action Force (ALFAN) is responsible to the Chief of Staff of the French Navy at the rue Royale in Paris.
In Ancien Régime France the Levant Fleet (French language: Flotte du Levant) was the part of the royal French navy based at Toulon, entrusted with Mediterranean operations. Its counterpart was the Ponant fleet, based at Rochefort or Brest. ("Ponant" in French means "setting", where the sun sets, i.e., the west. "Levant", rising, has the same meaning as in English, the east.) It was the forerunner of today's Mediterranean Fleet.
This fleet appeared in the portfolios of the secretaries of state in 1626, the same year as Richelieu was named "grand maître de la navigation". The two fleets were united in 1642, then split up again in 1661. The two fleets were put under the control of Colbert from 1662, whilst he was "intendant des finances" and "minister of state" but not "secretary of state" : he only became secretary of state in 1669 after having bought his way into the post. From then on, right up to the French Revolution, a secretary of state had responsibility for the whole fleet.
Vice-amiral François Fournier was Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Squadron (Commandant en chef l'Escadre de Méditerranée) in January 1899 aboard Galilée.
The twentieth century history of the French Navy in the Mediterranean includes surveillance of actions during the Spanish Civil War, the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir which destroyed most of the French fleet in 1940, and the Scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon. The Navy also protected troop convoys from French Algeria to France in both the First and Second World Wars and played a peripheral role in the Algerian War from 1954 to 1962. In 1956 the French Navy also took part alongside the Royal Navy in the attack on Egypt during the Suez Crisis. In 1964, the cruiser Colbert became flagship of the Mediterranean squadron.
- David Foxwell, 'France weighs up the global price, Jane's Navy International, July/August 1998, p.35
- http://ecole.nav.traditions.free.fr/ecoles_commandant_perrin.htm, accessed September 2011
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