Tag Archives: Barracuda-class

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.