French Navy press release
Intended to evacuate personnel one by one from a submarine in distress on the seabed, individual evacuation is a complementary means to collective evacuation using mini rescue submersibles like the NSRS (Nato Submarine Rescue System).
Many actors were mobilized, including the Individual Rescue Training Center (CESI), which trained the personnel in its facility on Ile Longue in Brittany (West of France), and provided divers to ensure the safety of the personnel exiting the airlock, as well as three volunteers to participate in the rescue operations. The group of mine-clearing divers of the Mediterranean and the CEPHISMER (Cell of submarine operations divers) also provided support and safety for the diving in the area. They were also able to successfully test the “POD POSTING” – the reception of a cylindrical container resistant to the pressure of immersion, designed to supply a submarine in distress.
The Toulon port facilities department was responsible for manoeuvring the trunk and holding the SSN throughout the exercise. Lastly, maritime police and fusiliers battalion ensured the policing of the water, which is particularly necessary at this time of the year.
The whole exercise was covered by the operational training for surveillance and territorial information (FOSIT), providing images and videos for the feedback of this rare type of exercise. The last real seagoing sinking exercise was in 2007 on a Rubis-class SSN. These exercises are necessary to guarantee the know-how of the forces in the field of survival-rescue.
This real evacuation exercise (ESCAPEX) from a submerged submarine was carried out as part of the second phase of verification of the military capabilities of the SSN Suffren, which aims to evaluate the ship’s performance before its admission to active service.
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