June 3 (UPI) -- Leaders of the U.S., French and British navies on Thursday signed a trilateral agreement to continue enhancing their collaboration.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, French Navy Adm. Pierre Vandier and Tony Radakin, First Sea Lord of Britain's Royal Navy met in Toulon, France, Thursday to sign the agreement, the U.S. Navy said in press release.
The navies, which acknowledged that their partnership has lasted more than a century, already currently working together as part of Britain's recently-deployed U.K. Carrier Strike Group and participate in a continuous series of military exercises together.
"Today, we reaffirm our commitment to uphold and advance a rules-based international system together that has underpinned our mutual security and prosperity," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in the release.
Vandier said the current common challenges of the three nations are likely to increase in both scale and complexity.
"Our three naval services must be prepared to respond, together, in conflicts of varying intensity across the globe. Our trilateral training and exercise activities reflect this reality and ensure that we are able to operate together at the highest level," Vandier said.
In addition to the meeting in Toulon, the three leaders visited the FS Charles De Gaulle and the HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea. The carrier strike group, led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, left for a seven-month deployment at the end of May.
USS The Sullivans is participating in the Elizabeth's strike group, and plans for the strike group's deployment include exercises with the FS De Gaulle in the Mediterranean.
The three navies are currently participating in the NATO-led Steadfast Defender exercise, and last week a French frigate destroyed missile traveling at about 5,000 miles per hour off the coast of Scotland during At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield 2021.
"Through continued engagement and dialogue, we are no doubt strengthening our forces' collective ability to ensure access to waterways -- and the economic prosperity that flows with it," Gilday said.