Socarenam is a medium-sized civil and military shipbuilding company. The company has 5 main sites in France, each specialized in a particular field. The first one in Boulogne-sur-Mer (North of France) where the head office is located and that is specialized in the manufacturing and repair of ships but also in outfitting works. The second one is in Calais specialized in offshore markets. In Dunkerque, there are facilities maintenance operations and not far away, in Etaples, facilities for the construction of small boats made mainly in aluminum. The Saint-Malo yard which we visited deals with the construction of hulls and superstructures. The shipyard can thus manufacture ships up to 90m long and 16m wide.
Socarenam has a long history with the French Navy. The company has built the French Navy’s Antilles-Guyana patrol ships, the EDAR amphibious landing crafts and is currently delivering the EDAS, the French Navy’s new landing crafts.
“Since 1998, we are regular supplier of the French Navy. We built more than eighty units for them. Socarenam specialized its defense part for the construction of patrol boats with sizes ranging from 20 to 90 meters in length, either in steel or aluminum. Today, we are the leader on the French market regarding patrol boats construction.”
Matthieu Gobert, Defense Project Manager, Socarenam
POM Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Indo-Pacific
Regarding the POM program, for thr record, the French Minister of the Armed Forces confirmed on January 17, 2020 an order for six “POM” offshore patrol vessels (OPV). The contract was awarded on December 24, 2019 to a Socarenam / CNN MCO consortium by the French armament procurement agency (DGA). Intended for the French Navy, these OPVs will be based in French overseas territories to replace ageing P400-class patrol boats.
“The POM program is to provide six OPVs to the French Navy meant to be based in French overseas territories: two in La Reunion, two in French Polynesia and the last two in New Caledonia.”
The future POM patrol vessels will carry out protection missions in the French exclusive economic zones (EEZ), intervention against maritime pollution and for environmental protection, as well as rescue and assistance to people.
These ships will be a real improvement of the ships they will replace, not only in size but also in the diversity of their capacities and modernity.
As for the construction of the first POM, it started in October 2020, but has been delayed due to the pandemic crisis. The delivery date will slide by 5 months due to the delays taken during the construction. The assembly of the blocks has been finalized and the ship’s structure has been put in dry dock in order to continue the work and leave room in the hangars for the assembly of the 2nd ship of the same class, whose blocks are currently being assembled.
“The schedule impose us to build the second ship in parallel of the first one so it can be delivered in 2023.”
As of July 2021, the company was continuing to weld the upper structure and the internal bulkheads to form the various compartments and gangways.
The hull is made of steel and the superstructure is made of aluminum to save weight. At the front of the hull, there is a bow bulb to improve the stability of the ship.
The bridge, which will house the CIC and all the navigation consoles, is designed to offer a 360° vision. This choice was made in order to have a view of the aviation deck on which a drone could land. Thus, a window will be placed on the back of the bridge in order to control the good conduct of the aerial operations.
The OPV will embark a fixed-wing UAV from the SMDM programme, the Airbus Aliaca UAS, and may also carry a 200-300 Kg rotary-wing UAV, which is yet to be determined. Therefore, it excludes the VSR700 – future French Navy rotary-wing UAV that will embark on frigates like FREMM or FDIs, currently in development. The ship will have a drone hangar to maintain the UAVs in condition.
Vestdavit is supplying the fast rescue boat davit systems allowing the recovery of 6.5 to 8m zodiacs even in rough seas. In addition, in order to be able to deploy a RHIB more quickly and easily, the POM is fitted with a ramp at the stern. However, it will not be able to recover a boat if the sea state is higher than 4.
In terms of technical specifications, the patrol boats will be 79.9m long with an 11m beam for a full displacement of 1300 tons. They will be manned by a crew of 30 and will have the capacity to accomodate 29 extra people.
The ships are powered by two hybrid engines which combine diesel/electric and diesel plus two electric bow thrusters, the OPVs will have a range of 5500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 12 knots and with a maximum speed capability of 24 knots.
“Two electric bow thrusters have been added to the classic propulsion system to improve the boat’s manoeuvrability.”
As previously mentioned, patrol vessels will have multiple missions including hydrography which is why the ship will carry one multibeam echo sounder that can be deployed through a moonpool.
POM’s main armament includes the remotely operated gun 20mm Narwahl from Nexter, 12.7mm and 7.62mm machine guns, and features non-vital self-defence systems such as water cannons or warning lights and horns.
Hensoldt UK is in charge to supply Kelvin Hughes Mk11 SharpEye surface search radars with combined MSSR 2000 IFF systems. Regarding the combat mangement system (CMS), French company NEXEYA, a subsiduary of Hensoldt was selected to provide the LYNCEA CMS.
Once completed, the ship will be towed to Socarenam’s site in Boulogne-sur-mer (North of France), for final outfitting.
Finally, it is planned that the ship will join the Brest naval base around May 2022 in order to carry out all her tests and qualifications. The ship should reach New Caledonia, by its own means, and be operational at the end of the same year.