The spokesman of the French Ministry of Defense, Hervé Grandjean, shared pictures of the event on Twitter. The actual keel laying date is not specified but likely took place today (24 December 2021). Naval News tried to contact the MoD and the shipbuilder to confirm the date of the event but no one responded.
“Future replacements for [Durance-class] tankers, the BRF will be able to provide long-term support to vessels deployed on the high seas, by supplying them with fuels, ammunition, spare parts and food, allowing them to improve their operational efficiency”
French Navy statement on Twitter
“The Jacques Chevallier force supply vessel is now on hold at Chantiers de l’Atlantique. Thanks to the military planning law, these vesselss will replace the ageing tankers of the Marine Nationale . The rise of our Armies continues!”
Hervé Grandjean, Spokesman of the French MoD, statement on Twitter
A keel laying ceremony was initially set to take place on 14 December 2021 (two days prior to the keel laying of the first FDI new generation frigate for the French Navy) and Naval News was set to cover the event. However the ceremony was cancelled at the time due to bad weather: The forward section of the ship, which was built in Italy by local shipbuilder Fincantieri, could not be delivered in time. It appears that the keel laying took place on Christmas Eve, with no ceremony, no fanfare and no coverage.
About BRF / Chevallier-class Replenishment Tanker
The construction of the first of four new replenishment tankers / supply vessels for the French navy (Marine Nationale) started in May 2020 at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in cooperation with Naval Group. The future vessels will be known as the Jacques Chevallier-class.
Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Naval Group were awarded a contract for the construction of four supply vessels in January 2019. The vessels are set to be delivered between the end of 2022 and 2029. It is part of a Franco-Italian program led by OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement – Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation), on behalf of the French defense procurement agency (DGA) and its Italian counterpart NAVARM. As such, the design of the French BRF design is based on the Italian Navy LSS (Vulcano-class) designed by Fincantieri.
Safran Electronics & Defense was selected to supply the PASEO XLR extra long-range naval optronic identification & fire control system while to all four vessels of the class, while Vestdavit has won a tender from Chantiers de l’Atlantique to supply the davit systems for the BRFs. The RAPIDFire naval gun system developed by the consortium formed by Thales and Nexter has been chosen as the main artillery and CIWS for the class (two systems per ship). GE is providing the propulsion systems (MV7000 drives) of the vessels.
Main characteristics of the BRF vessels
Gross tonnage: 28,700 GRT
Displacement at full load: 31,000 tonnes
Overall length: 194 m
Overall width: 27.60 m
Crew capacity: 190 people (including 130 crew members and capacity for 60 passengers)
Total deadweight: 14,870 tonnes
Freight volume: 13,000 m3
Total installed capacity: 24 MW
Artillery: 40 mm guns
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