The delivery ceremony took place today in presence of a small delegation of officials due to the health crisis: The Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, General François Lecointre, Chief of the Defense Staff, the Delegate General for Armaments Joël Barre, Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Victor Salvetti CEA Military Applications Department (DAM) as well as the Chairman and CEO of Naval Group Pierre Eric Pommellet and Loïc Rocard Chairman and CEO of TechnicAtome.
A major milestone for the Barracuda program
The Barracuda program to replace six existing SSNs was launched by the DGA in 1998. The development contract was awarded in 2006. More than 10 years of studies were needed to design an advanced submarine that fully matches the needs of the French Navy.
Delivery of the six submarines will take place over a decade. Knowing that the Suffren-class SSN will serve for more than 30 years, this program engages the submarine forces at least until 2060, making it one of the major french weapons systems of this century.
“What a long way for Naval Group and all its industrial and state partners since the first steel cut on December 19, 2007, less than a year after the signing of the procurement contract by the DGA. The industrial challenges were numerous. I salute the commitment of the design and production teams of Naval Group, TechnicAtome, prime contractor for the on-board nuclear boiler, as well as those of the DGA, CEA and the French Navy. Hundreds of French companies, large and small, foremost among which Naval Group, have mobilized and continue to mobilize for this program, and this first success can only reinforce our collective commitment to be present for the delivery of the next unit of the Barracuda program, the Duguay-Trouin in 2022, followed by the four other submarines by the end of the decade. “
Pierre Eric Pommellet, Naval Group Chairman and CEO
Successful sea trials
“We succeeded in optimizing the sea trial phase in a six-month schedule, including one hundred days at sea! By way of comparison, on Le Triomphant-type submarines this would represent fifteen months! This is the first time that a new vessel has been able to sail twice over a period of one month continuously during its sea trial phase. This has demonstrated the endurance of the submarine to our customer. To increase efficiency, we have reduced the number of tests and optimized sea outings”
Philippe Nezondet, Suffren sea trials manager at Naval Group
During Suffren‘ sea trials, the crew checked the capabilities of the submarine and its compliance with the specifications. For a nuclear-powered submarines, the sea trials represent an intense phase of validation of the onboard installations. The operations carried out gradually over several test campaigns made it possible to ensure in particular the watertightness in immersion and the maneuverability of the ship, the performance of the combat system, the tactical weapons and all the high-tech equipment on board the new generation vessel.
These tests were concluded, among other things, by the firing of the SM39 missile on September 23 and the naval cruise missile (MdCN) on October 20. The presence of the MdCN is a major asset of these SSNs compared to their predecessors: the future French Navy submarines will now be able to reach targets on land several hundred kilometers away. This new capability guarantees the technological superiority of the ships of the French Navy.
About Suffren-class SSN
The Suffren-class is designed to replace the Rubis-class in the French Navy (Marine Nationale). Naval Group is in charge of the construction of this submarines series, including the design and construction of the ship and information systems as well as the manufacturing of the main components of nuclear boiler rooms.
The “launch event” took place on July 12 2019 in presence of French president Emmanuel Macron. The actual “launch in the water” took place on August 1st, when the submarine entered the water for the first time at the Naval Group shipyard in Cherbourg, Normandie.
According to submarine expert and Naval News regular contributor H I Sutton, the Suffren-class is more than an iterative improvement on the Rubis-class. It will provide a broader capability and is able to take on a wider range of missions. Check out his analysis on this “Game Changing” submarine at this link.
Suffren-class submarines specifications
- Surface displacement: 4,700 tonnes
- Diving displacement: 5,300 tonnes
- Length: 99.5 metres
- Diameter: 8.8 metres
- Maximum depth: > 350 meters
- Armament: naval cruise missiles, F21 heavy-weight wire-guided torpedoes, modernized Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles, naval mines
- Hybrid propulsion: pressurized water reactor derived from the reactors on board the Triomphant-type SSBN and Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, two propulsion turbines, two turbo generators and two electric motors
- Crew: 65 crew members + approx. 15 commandos
- Availability: > 270 days per year