This transfer follows the decision taken on October 22, 2020 by Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, to proceed with the repair of the Perle. During the fire which lasted 13 hours, the high temperature altered the the quality of the submarine’ steel in the forward section of the hull. As a consequence, the forward section of Perle will be cut off and the forward section of another Rubis-class SSN, the Saphir, will be welded back to Perle‘s aft section. The Rubis-class SSN Saphir (second boat of the class) was decommissioned in July 2019.
“The loading of the Perle SSN aboard the Storm and its departure to Cherbourg symbolically marks the beginning of the reconquest of the Perle. After repairs, the submarine will have regained its technical potential and will be fully operational until the planned date of its decommissioning, with the Rubis-class SSNs being gradually replaced by the Suffren-class SSNs, while maintaining the format of the SSN fleet of six submarines”.
General Engineer (DGA) Guillaume de Garidel, Director of Fleet Support.
Cutting, hull welding and connection work will be carried out in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. They will be followed by a return to Toulon where the submarine will resume the overhaul, which was interrupted in June. This repair, although exceptional, is a controlled industrial operation. Operations of this type have already been carried out on submarine hulls in France and abroad. It will be carried out in compliance with all the conditions required for the safety and operational capacity of the submarine.
About Perle’s fire
For the record, on June 12, at 10:35 am, a fire broke out in the fore zone of the Rubis-class SSN Perle in a basin within the naval base of Toulon (South of France). The blaze was put out at 12:50 am the next day, after more than 14 hours of a fight that mobilized a hundred firefighters and more than 150 sailors in support.
Perle’s fire leaves a capability gap affecting the French submarine force as well as the security of the French nuclear deterrence. The French Navy is left with only 4 operational SSN. The next class of SSN, the first ship-in-class Suffren , which started sea trials this year, won’t be fully operational until 2021.
About French Navy Rubis-class SSN
According to Covert Shores’ World Submarines Recognition Guide, The first of the six Rubis-class submarines was commissioned in 1983 and the final one in 1993. They are the smallest nuclear-powered submarines in the world with a length of just 73.6 meters and a submerged displacement of 2,600 tons.
From the beginning, the boats were disapointingly noisy and failed to achieve some of the performance objectives (such as top speed). As a consequence, the French Navy and industry embarked on the Amethyste upgrade program in 1989. AMETHYSTE stand for Amélioration tactique, hydrodynamique, silence, transmission, écoute (Silent Acoustic Transmission Tactical Hydrodynamic Improvement). It brought a number of upgrades including a major change to the hull form and bow. By 1995, all six boats of the class had been upgraded.
Rubis-class submarine specifications
- Displacement: 2,400 tons surfaced; 2,600 tons submerged
- Length: 73.6 meters (241 feet)
- Beam: 7 meters (25 feet)
- Speed: 18 knots surfaced; 25+ knots submerged
- Depth: 300 meters (984 feet) operational
- Propulsion: K48 pressurized water reactor (64,000 hp); 2x turbo-alternators; 1x 9400 hp electric motor, one shaft
- Complement: 70 sailors
- Weapon systems: 4x 533mm torpedo tubes for 14x F17 torpedo or 14x Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles
- Sensor systems: DMUX-20 active/passive sonar; DSUV-62C towed array