For the past few days, a subject seems to have focused the attention of a large part of the French defense sphere. Indeed, now that the construction of the future new generation nuclear aircraft carrier intended to replace the Charles de Gaulle from 2038, is assured, it is appropriate to name the future flagship of the French Navy. And obviously, the subject is complex, since the Minister of the Armed Forces very officially, and publicly, mandate the historical service of the Armed Forces to make proposals to him in this direction, proposals which will have to be "innovative", in the words of Sebastien Lecornu.
It is true that the choice of baptismal names for frigates or submarines is most often entrusted to the French Navy to take over the flag of emblematic ships, or to pay tribute to glorious sailors, the surname of the French aircraft carrier carries a much more political symbolism, both in France and internationally.
Thus, if no one outside the naval defense sphere knows the names of the ships of the French Navy, in France or abroad, the Charles de Gaulle is much more widely known and recognized, as a French Admiral ship but also as a building with significant operational potential, and the name it bears, also adorned with an important international imprint, is one of its key elements.
In fact, the specifications for naming the future nuclear aircraft carrier are far from obvious. First of all, the name chosen must be perfectly consensual, with French public opinion obviously, but also internationally, not being able to refer to historical events perceived negatively by our allies. It is therefore impossible to name the ship the Napoleon Bonaparte, the most internationally recognized of the French, but whose greatest historical achievement was to attempt to invade Europe.
The same goes for most images of French royalty, which are also perceived very differently depending on whether one is French or European. According to this principle, it would also be inappropriate to name the ship after a city or a region, which would undoubtedly cause tension and jealousy from other regions.
Secondly, the name of baptisms must have a real echo in public opinion, beyond the sphere of defense or the Navy. It is therefore useless to turn to the great French admirals, such as Tourville or Jean de Vienne, whose reputation does not go beyond the circle of military historians. Substantivized adjectives, such as the Triomphant or the Redoutable, are also most often references to ships of the old regime, without such names arousing any real popular support or recognition, whereas beyond the borders, they can lead to confusion as to the translation applied.
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