Alsace set sails in the evening twilight despite expected heavy weather and seas off Britany’ Southern coast. This is the seventh FREMM European Multi-Mission Frigate ordered by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) on behalf of the French Navy, and whose program management has been entrusted to the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR).
The FREMM DA Alsace was launched April 18, 2019 at the Naval Group shipyard of Lorient thirteen months after its keel laying. It is the ninth FREMM frigate built by Naval Group and the seventh one for the French Navy.
Alsace was expected to begin sea trials in May this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shipyard stopped production for nearly two months, delaying the program by nearly four months (because of subsequent impact on the overall supply chain). Likewise, Aslace‘s sistership, Lorraine, (the final FREMM for the French Navy) was set to be launched last month. It will actually hit the water by year-end. Naval Group still expects to deliver the two vessels to the customer on time: First half of 2021 and second half of 2022 respectively. Following the delivery of its last FREMM, Naval Group will transition to the FDI, the next generation of frigates for the French Navy.
The FREMM DA program started in 2008. Alsace and Lorraine are replacing the two Cassard-class (Type F70 AA) frigates and their ageing SM-1 surface to air missiles. Cassard was decommissioned on 15 march 2019. Jean Bart is set to be decommissioned next year.
“Day and night, Naval Group employees, in close cooperation with the crew, will be required to carry out various tests, monitor and operate the installations. The aim of this first sea trial is twofold: to test the performance of the propulsion and navigation systems, but also to start checking and testing the integration of the combat system.”
Didier Trehin, Naval Group manager onboard
“Despite the health crisis, the FREMM program is on time and on schedule. Despite the health crisis, the FREMM program is on time and on schedule,”
Nicolas Gaspard, FREMM Program Director
All six FREMM in their ASW (anti-submarine warfare) variant have been delivered between 2012 and 2019 to the French Navy. Aquitaine in 2012, Provence in 2015, Languedoc in 2016, Auvergne in April 2017, Bretagne in July 2018 and Normandie in July 2019. On the international side, Morocco received the Mohammed VI in 2014 and Egypt the Tahya Misr in 2015.
About FREMM DA
According to Naval Group, the FREMM DA Alsace is a strongly armed surface combatant fitted with the most performant weapon systems and equipment such as: the Herakles multifunction radar, the Aster 15 and 30 surface to air missiles, the Excocet MM 40 anti-ship missiles or the MU 90 torpedo. The performance of its combat system are reinforced with increased radar and communication capacities, a new fire control radar, and a SETIS CMS fitted with specific anti-air defense functions.
While the FREMM DA retains the same anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities as earlier vessels of the Aquitaine-class (with CAPTAS-4 and UMS 4110 CL sonars), its so called “increased capabilities in air defense” consists in a few notable changes:
- The Thales Herakles multi-function radar is more powerful, has more transmitter modules, additional wave-forms and search modes for long range air defense
- A Thales STIR EO MK 2 fire control radar replaces the Najir by Sagem (providing better AAW and ASuW capabilities to the 76mm main gun)
- Reinforced bridge structure to accommodate the extra weight of the above
- 4x Sylver A50 vertical launch systems for a total of 32x MBDA Aster 15 or 30 surface to air missiles
- Additional communication systems and antennas
- 3x additional consoles in the CIC (the global arrangement inside the CIC has been modified accordingly) for a total of 20 aboard the ship
- Modifications to the SETIS combat management system with specific air defense functions
- Additional berthing
According to the French Navy’s FREMM program manager, the FREMM DA main mission will be area air defense of major Marine Nationale units such as the Charles de Gaulle aircraft-carrier and the three Mistral-class LHDs, within a carrier-strike group or as part of an amphibious group.
Technical characteristics of the FREMM DA
- Overall length: 142 m
- Beam: 20 m
- Displacement: 6,000 tonnes
- Max. speed: 27 knots
- Complement: 119 sailors (+ 14 for the aviation crew)
- Accommodation: 165 men and women
- Range: 6,000 at 15 knots