A first steel cut ceremony took place in presence of French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and the Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Admiral Prazuck, at the shipyard in Saint-Nazaire. This ceremony symbolically marked the start of construction for the first BRF replenishment tanker (bâtiment ravitailleur de force or force replenishment vessel) of the “Logistics Fleet” (FLOTLOG) program.
This day is important for our armies, for the French Navy and for our defense industry. Our three current tankers will be replaced by four double-hull vessels to protect the oceans from any oil incident. We will need this excellence that has made you known worldwide because it is here, in Saint-Nazaire, that the new generation aircraft carrier will be built which will replace the Charles de Gaulle in 2038.Florence Parly
It was revealed that the first-in-class ship will be named after Jacques Chevallier, famous for his work in the field of nuclear propulsion. This engineer designed the nuclear propulsion system of the first class of French SSBNs.
Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Naval Group were awarded a contract for the construction of four supply vessels in January 2019. The vessels are set to be delivered between the end of 2022 and 2029.
It is part of a Franco-Italian program led by OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement – Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation), on behalf of the French defense procurement agency (DGA) and its Italian counterpart NAVARM. As such, the design of the French BRF design is based on the Italian Navy LSS (Vulcano-class) designed by Fincantieri.
Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s role
Chantiers de l’Atlantique is in charge the design and construction of the four ships. It is responsible for the integration and assembly of the onboard systems.
“We are at the beginning of a new industrial history, which will allow us to demonstrate once again our know-how in all our businesses as a designer, builder and integrator of high-level technologies. It will also be a very good opportunity to illustrate the complementarity of our activities with those of our partner Naval Group”.
Laurent Castaing, CEO of Chantiers de l’Atlantique
Naval Group’s role
Naval Group is charge of the design, development, and integration of the ship’s military systems (aviation, ammunition, immunization). The company is also responsible for certain functions such as cyber security, electromagnetic compatibility…. The combat system of the four ships – based on Naval Group’s Polaris combat management system – provides protection against close-in threats as well as asymmetric threats.
“Naval Group is proud to be once again present alongside Chantiers de l’Atlantique in the framework of this European programme. This cooperation, which brings together the best expertise from the civil and military sectors, is beneficial both economically and operationally for our customers,”
Pierre-Eric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group.
About French Navy’s BRF Replenishment Tanker
The future French Navy tankers, with a fuel capacity of 13,000 m3, have the mission to provide logistics support to the French and allied navies’ combat vessels. They will carry fuel for vessels, jet fuel for aircraft, weapons and ammunition, spare parts, as well as food. The ships will also be equipped with waste management solutions and repair workshops.
The BRF will be modern and highly effective double-hulled ships, which will comply with existing international regulations. They will replace the current single-hulled Durance-class tankers of the French Navy that entered active service in the 1970s and 80s. The four new BRF will provide long-term support for any blue-sea combat fleet (aircraft-carrier, LHDs, destroyers) in both liquid and solid stores: fuel, ammunition, spare parts and food.
Safran Electronics & Defense was selected to supply the PASEO XLR extra long-range naval optronic identification & fire control system while to all four vessels of the class, while Vestdavit has won a tender from Chantiers de l’Atlantique to supply the davit systems for the BRFs.
Differences between French BRF and Italian Vulcano
The French BRF will be slightly larger than the Italian Vulcano (194 meters in length and 31,000 tons full load displacement compared to 193 meters and 27,200 tons). DGA told Naval News the reason for this difference is the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier: Its air wing is significantly larger compared to the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour. The requirements for aviation fuel are greater.
Naval RapidFire by Nexter and Thales
In terms of weapon system for the self-protection of the vessel, while the initial BRF images (released in 2019) showed two BAE Systems Bofor 40Mk4 gun systems (one forward, one aft), it is actually the new Naval RapidFire by Nexter and Thales that won the tender (in which Leonardo with the MARLIN 40mm, Rheinmetall with the Oerlikon Millenium gun 35mm, MBDA with the SIMBAD RC surface to air missile system and BAE Systems Bofors with 40Mk4 40mm were also competing). However, an official confirmation of the RapidFire selection is yet to be made…
Our video on Nexter Thales Rapidfire 40mm naval gun system with 40CTAS (cased telescoped armament system) cannon during DSEI 2019:
Main characteristics of the BRF vessels
Gross tonnage: 28,700 GRT
Displacement at full load: 31,000 tonnes
Overall length: 194 m
Overall width: 27.60 m
Crew capacity: 190 people (including 130 crew members and capacity for 60 passengers)
Total deadweight: 14,870 tonnes
Freight volume: 13,000 m3
Total installed capacity: 24 MW
Artillery: 40 mm guns
Polaris® Combat Management System