Tag Archives: Barracuda-class

French Barracuda

Naval Group delivered on 06 November 2020 the Suffren (S635) nuclear attack submarine (SSN) to the French Armament Procurement Agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement) at the Toulon naval base. Intended for the French Navy, the Suffren is the first in a series of six SSN that will gradually replace the submarines of the Rubis-class. The delivery of the Suffren took place today in the presence of a small number of high-ranking personalities, due to the health crisis. Florence Parly, French Minister of Defence, General François Lecointre, Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, Joël Barre, Delegate General for Armament, Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Victor Salvetti, Director of military applications at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO Naval Group, and Loïc Rocard, CEO TechnicAtome, all welcomed this major milestone of the Barracuda program, in the presence of several representatives of the political, industrial and military worlds, including crew members.

Suffren (Q284)
Naval Group delivers the Suffren (S635) to the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA)

Launched in 1998 by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), the Barracuda program renews the submarine component of the French nuclear deterrence capability consisting of six Rubis-class submarines that entered service in the early 1980s. The associated development contract was notified at the end of 2006. More than ten years of studies were required to define a submarine that meets the French Navy’s operational requirements. This first delivery is the beginning of a phase leading to the qualification of this new class.

The delivery of the six submarines will take place over a decade. With a lifespan of more than 30 years, the Suffren-class submarines will be the backbone of the French submarine forces until at least 2060, making it one of the major weapon systems of this century.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO Naval Group, declared: «What a long way Naval Group has come with its industrial and governmental partners since the first metal sheet was cut on December 10, 2007, less than a year after the DGA had signed the acquisition contract. The industrial challenges have been numerous. I salute the commitment of Naval Group’s design and production teams, of TechnicAtome – the prime contractor for the onboard nuclear boiler room – as well as those of the DGA, the CEA and the French Navy. Hundreds of French companies – both large and small, at the forefront of which Naval Group stands, have been and continue to be mobilised for the construction of this program. This initial success can only strengthen our collective commitment to deliver the next unit of the Barracuda series, the Duguay-Trouin, in 2022, followed by the other four submarines by the end of the decade».

The construction of these Barracuda submarines mobilises a wide range of exceptional know-how in the most advanced technologies.

Among these, the very special steels, underwater acoustics performances, and the weapon systems make the SSN Barracuda one of the most efficient submarines in the world.

The Barracuda submarines, with their navigation and communication means and their centralised and automated control are also more manoeuvrable and mobile. Another major innovation is the optronic mast, which replaces the telescopic mast, ensuring better collection of visual information and better sharing of this information among the crew. This new feature, combined with advanced detection capabilities, guarantees the superiority of Barracuda submarines in their intelligence missions.

The Barracuda series also offers the French Navy a real combat superiority with, for the first time, a deep strike capability thanks to MBDA Naval Cruise Missiles (NCM). They can also use the Naval Group new Naval Group heavy torpedo F21 as well as MBDA SM39 missiles. The Barracuda submarines also enable the discreet and enhanced deployment of special forces.

This technological and capability leap is the result of more than twenty years of collective work between Naval Group and hundreds of partners of the European defence industrial and technological base. A total of 2,500 men and women (including around 800 from Naval Group subcontractors) are contributing to the design and production of the Barracuda submarines.

All Naval Group sites are currently mobilised for the next five Barracuda submarines. The second of the Barracuda series, the Duguay-Trouin, whose sections will be fully joined by the end of this year, will be delivered in 2022. The third, the Tourville, is being integrated at the side of the Duguay-Trouin. At the Naval Group site in Nantes-Indret, the assembly of the propulsion system and of the nuclear boiler module of the fourth, the De Grasse, is also underway. Finally, Naval Group teams have begun forming the first elements of the hulls of the fifth and sixth submarines, the Rubis and the Casabianca, as well as elements of their nuclear boiler modules.

The infrastructures at the Toulon naval base have been modernised to accommodate this new generation of submarines: «We are ready and very proud to work on the through-life support of the Suffren (S635) in Toulon», said Vincent Vimont, Director of the SSN Operational Maintenance Program at Naval Group.

The project started with definition studies in 2014 and mobilised around 200 people from Naval Group and from 15 subcontractors. Two other basins will also be modernised in the coming years. The teams at the Naval Group Toulon site, specialised in the through-life support of submarines, have been trained in the new technical specifications of the submarine and in the use of the new facilities. They are now qualified to carry out maintenance operations on the Suffren (S635) and her sisterships.

«We managed to optimise the sea trials phase within a 6-month schedule, including 100 days at sea! By comparison, for the Rubis-class it was 15 months! This is the first time that a new vessel has been able to sail twice in a continuous one-month period during her sea trials phase. This demonstrated the submarine’s endurance to our client. To improve our work efficiency, we reduced the number of ashore trials and optimised sea trials», says Philippe Nezondet, head of Suffren (S635) trials at Naval Group.

The sea trials – conducted by the DGA as the ship is manned by the French Navy – aim at proofing the Suffren capacities and the conformity to the ship specifications in order to qualify the Barracuda submarines. These sea trials represent an intense validation phase for a nuclear submarine’s on-board installations. The operations conducted progressively over several test campaigns have made it possible to ensure that the vessel is watertight underwater, that she can be properly maneuvered, but also to assess the performance of the combat system, tactical weapons and all the high-tech equipment on-board. These tests were concluded with the firing of the SM39 missile on September 23, and of the Naval Cruise Missile (NCM) on October 20. The NCM is a major advantage of the Barracuda submarines over their predecessors: French submarines will now be able to fire underwater and hit a land-based target several hundred kilometres away. This new capability guarantees the technological superiority of French Navy ships.

 

Technical characteristics of the Suffren-class SSN

Surface displacement 4,600 tonnes
Diving displacement 5,200 tonnes
Length 99 metres/325 feet
Diameter 8.8 metres/28.87 feet
Armament Naval Cruise Missiles (NCM), F21 heavy-weight wire-guided torpedoes, modernized Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles
Hybrid propulsion pressurised 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
Immersion deeper than 300 m/984 feet
Crew 65 crew members + commandos
Availability > 270 days per year

 

Barracuda

According to Defense-aerospace.com, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the first dive in the Suffren at sea, carried out on Tuesday April 28, 2020, after her departure from the naval base of Cherbourg. The Suffren is the first of six Barracuda nuclear attack submarines.

Suffren, the first of six Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarines being built for the French Navy, has kicked off her sea trials with her first dive at sea. These trials were originally due to begin in early 2020 (FR MoD photo)

Led by the French Armaments Directorate (DGA), these sea trials, which will last several months, will confirm the robustness and efficiency of the submarine before her hand-over to the French Navy.

At dockside as at sea, the test campaign will follow the specific health prevention and precautionary measures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SSNs are real instruments of power, enduring and discreet. Their missions are varied, and range from support to the deterrent force, protection of the carrier strike group, intelligence gathering, and anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare. Suffren-type SSNs will add a land-attack cruise missile capability and will be optimized for the deployment of special forces.

With the Suffren, France is starting to renew its fleet of SSNs, which entered service in the 1980s, and will thus have modern submarines among the most efficient in the world.

With this first outing at sea, the Barracuda program crosses a major milestone after the launch of Suffren, on July 12, 2019, by the President of the Republic.

Over the past eight months, the program’s industrial and state teams have successfully conducted all of the Suffren’s dockside tests aimed at verifying the proper functioning of its various systems and equipment. Three prerequisites have been validated: the combat system has reached the end of its tests on land and is ready for the continuation of assessments at sea; the nuclear reactor was started at the end of 2019 after loading its fuel and, finally, in January 2020 the submarine was floated to validate the first waterproofness tests.

Started in the English Channel, these sea trials will later take the Suffren to the Atlantic and finally to the Mediterranean. Under the supervision of engineers and technicians from the DGA, the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), Naval Group and TechnicAtome, they will be carried out by submariners of the French Navy who will gradually check all of the boat’s technical and operational capabilities.

They are due to last several months until her delivery scheduled for later this year. During the entire phase of sea trials, the boat remains the property of Naval Group. She is placed under the responsibility of the French Navy for operational command and as a delegated nuclear operator. As the contracting authority for the Barracuda program, the DGA is responsible for testing up to the acceptance of the boat and her delivery to the French Navy.

The DGA worked with the CEA, the French Navy and industrial prime contractors to allow the program to continue under specific health conditions. Since March 16, the business continuity plan for the Cherbourg site and the Barracuda program takes into account all measures to ensure the health and safety of personnel.

In particular, all personnel on board for sea trials have been placed in preventive quarantine, and have been tested negative for COVID-19. On board, wearing a mask will be mandatory at all times and the rules of hygiene and disinfection will be strictly applied.

 

Technical characteristics

Surface displacement 4,700 tonnes
Diving displacement 5,200 tonnes
Length 99 metres/325 feet
Diameter 8.8 metres/28.87 feet
Armament naval cruise missiles, F21 heavy-weight wire-guided torpedoes, modernized Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles
Hybrid propulsion pressurised 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 + commandos
Availability > 270 days per year

 

Divergence
of the reactor

After the launch of the Suffren last 12 July in the presence of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, a new milestone was reached with the divergence of the reactor, a prelude to its first sea acceptance tests prior to its delivery in 2020.

The start-up of the Suffren nuclear reactor

The divergence of the Suffren’s nuclear reactor has just been performed by the TechnicAtome and Naval Group teams on the Cherbourg site in accordance with the authorisations issued by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire – ASN) and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA).

Designed under the responsibility of the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Agency (CEA), the nuclear reactor was built under the prime contracting of TechnicAtome, reactor designer, Naval Group being responsible for the production of the pressure equipments and the integration of the reactor on-board the Barracuda submarines.

One thousand employees from both companies are working full time in parallel on the six reactors of the Barracuda program.

Loïc Rocard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TechnicAtome, declared: «The first divergence of the nuclear reactor is a privileged moment for all those who contributed to make this operational and technological success possible. From the designer to the operator, and including the fitters, testers, welders and so many other trades, this is a rare moment of collective achievement, the symbol of a sector that lives up to its ambitions in the service of the French Navy».

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group: «The start-up of the nuclear reactor on-board the Suffren submarine is a new demonstration of the know-how of the French nuclear industrial sector, with TechnicAtome and Naval Group in the forefront. This success gives the country an unequalled defence tool with a high degree of industrial autonomy benefitting the sovereignty of France».

 

About divergence

Divergence is conducted from the Propulsion Control Station (PCS) of the Suffren. The operation consists in triggering a controlled nuclear reaction in the core for the first time. Lasting only a short time, this operation marks the beginning of the constant monitoring of the nuclear reactor by the operating teams. This operation will be continuous until the decommissioning of the submarine, planned for the 2050 decade.

 

The Suffren

The Barracuda is the submarine of the 21st century, designed to meet the operational needs of the current and future navy. It features extensive operational capabilities and the latest technologies. More versatile, higher performing and better armed than its predecessors, the Suffren type SSN will go faster and further. It is designed to control all types of marine spaces, from the high seas to coastal areas.

Launched in 1998 by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), the Barracuda program renews its Ship Subsurface Nuclear (SSN) component composed of six Rubis type SSNs commissioned at the start of eighties. The associated development contract was notified in December 2006.

The Suffren type SSN is equipped with a nuclear propulsion system which offers a remarkable action range and discretion. It also features communication means allowing its integration within a naval force.

 

A few figures and key dates

This is a long-term program: more than ten years were necessary to study the feasibility of the project and lead to the definition of a submarine that meets the operational need expressed in

the staff requirement file. The nuclear reactor components required the procurement of raw materials in the early 2000s.

The delivery of the six submarines will span one decade beginning in 2020.

  • Knowing that the lifespan of Suffren type SSNs will be more than 35 years, this program serves the submarine forces at least up to 2060, making it one of the major weapon systems of this century.
  • Since the launch of the project, nearly 10,000 people from the program management and industrial subcontracting chain have worked for the Barracuda program.
  • The Suffren, the first of class, was launched 1st August 2019 and will begin its sea trials in the first quarter of 2020 to arrive in Toulon before the summer.

Barracuda

On July 12 2019, during a ceremony presided over by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Naval Group launched the Suffren, the first of six nuclear submarines of the latest generation in Cherbourg. This event is a key step for the Barracuda program for the benefit of the French Navy.

In the presence of the President of the French Republic, Naval Group launches the Suffren, the latest generation of nuclear submarines (SSN)

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group, said: «We are proud to have presented to the President of the French Republic the first submarine of the Barracuda-class, a symbol of our exceptional know-how and our ability to master the most advanced technologies and the most complex products. The construction of the Suffren is a collective success, the result of a strong cooperation with our long-standing partners: the French Navy and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), but also the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome and all the manufacturers of the sector. Now, we are all focused on finalising the Suffren tests at the shipyard, with the start-up of the nuclear boiler room in the coming weeks, but also on producing the complete series. Maintaining our knowledge and adapting to new technologies are among our main priorities».

Vincent Martinot-Lagarde, Director of the Barracuda program at Naval Group, also commented: «To successfully complete this extraordinary project, several thousand women and men worked together, driven by the same values of team spirit and technical excellence. Today, on the occasion of this exceptional ceremony, we are very proud to present our work, which is the result of the extraordinary diversity of our skills».

 

Naval Group’s know-how and technological expertise

The Suffren is the first of the Barracuda-class series, designed to replace the Rubis-class generation. 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.

Naval Group is the overall prime contractor of the ship’s architecture (2 500 people) and TechnicAtome is the prime contractor for the nuclear reactor. The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) is in charge of the overall program, with the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) for the nuclear reactor.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, meets with submarine crew members after the official launch ceremony of the new French nuclear submarine Suffren in Cherbourg, northwestern France, on July 12, 2019 (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)

 

With this program, Naval Group irrigates the French industry with more than 10,000 people and 800 companies involved

All the skills within the group are called upon to design and produce the Suffren and the following of the Barracuda series. All Naval Group sites are simultaneously mobilised. Nantes-Indret, Angoulême-Ruelle, Brest and Lorient design and produce different systems and modules. The Ollioules site is responsible for the design and production of the combat system. The entire program is managed from Cherbourg, where the submarines are assembled and tested.

The Toulon site will be in charge of the maintenance of the Suffren and gradually that of the entire series. The in-service support was taken into account from the submarine’s design stage to limit the number and duration of interventions, thus optimising the availability of the Barracuda-class at sea.

 

The Suffren: a technology and capacity leap

The Suffren is one of the stealthiest submarines over the world. This discretion, combined with its advanced detection capabilities, guarantees its acoustic superiority.

For the first time thanks to the Suffren-class submarines, the French Navy will have a deep strike capability with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles (MdCN). The latest generation of SSN also allows the discreet deployment of special forces underwater, in particular thanks to its «divers hatch» and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles.

More discreet, manoeuvrable and mobile, the Suffren has the latest generation of systems, including a centralised and more automated driving.

France launches first Barracuda-class nuclear attack sub

 

The technical characteristics of the Suffren-class submarines

Surface displacement 4,700 tonnes
Diving displacement 5,300 tonnes
Length 99 metres/324.8 feet
Diameter 8.8 metres/28.9 feet
Armament naval cruise missiles, F21 heavy-weight wire-guided torpedoes, modernised Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles
Hybrid propulsion pressurised 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
Speed 25 knots/29 mph/46 km/h
Crew 65 crew members + commandos
Availability 270 days per year

 

Fifth Barracuda

Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, decided at the Ministerial Investment Committee meeting on May 2nd to order the fifth Barracuda-class Nuclear Attack Submarine.

Armed Forces Ministry Orders Fifth Barracuda
Armed Forces Ministry Orders Fifth Barracuda

The Directorate-General for Armament (DGA) awarded this contract on 31 May 2018 to Naval Group and Technicatome. Naval Group is the prime contractor for the entire vessel. This submarine will be called Rubis.

The Military Programme Bill 2019-2025 maintains the format of a six-boat Barracuda nuclear attack submarine flotilla in operational service by 2030. The first four boats will be delivered over the period 2019-2025, including the first-of-class, Suffren, in 2020.

Their nuclear propulsion gives the Barracuda SSN a remarkable range of action and discretion. Armed with heavy Artemis torpedoes and Exocet anti-ship missiles, they will also carry naval cruise missiles (MdCN). This latter ability will allow them, in all discretion, to weigh on an opponent with the threat of long-range strikes, up to several hundred kilometers from the coast. Finally, they will also be able to deploy special forces while submerged, also with full discretion.