Tag Archives: DGA

FREDA Frigate «Lorraine»

On 16 November 2022, the last of the 8 French FREMM frigates ordered by OCCAR for France was accepted by the organisation and delivered to the French Navy with the agreement of the DGA. This event follows the recent visit of the Director of OCCAR to the Naval Group Lorient shipyard and his visit on board the frigate on 11 October 2022 where the aims of the delivery schedule objective were strongly reminded.

FS Lorraine (D657)
The FREMM FOS1 FREDA Frigate «Lorraine» delivered to the French Navy

The ceremony took place in Toulon on board the ship in the presence of the Admiral commanding the French naval action force (ALFAN) and the Engineer General of Armaments directing the DGA’s naval armament programmes. This event takes place 10 years after the delivery of the FREMM Aquitaine, the first of the French series, almost to the day.

During his speech, on behalf of the Director of OCCAR, the Deputy FREMM Programme Manager recalled the pride and honour of the Organisation to proceed with the contractual acceptance of the FREMM Lorraine. He also highlighted the collective work performed by all the industrial and state teams who had made it possible to meet the long-standing deadline. He recalled the excellence of the cooperation with Italy on this programme and the commonalities developed in close cooperation.

This FREMM ship, which is also the second of the FREDA class with enhanced anti-air capabilities, also offers new operational capabilities. These include the integration of the new SYRACUSE 4 communication system, the integration of a new STIR radar and optronic fire control system and new functionalities offered by the Combat System upgrade. These new increments have been progressively integrated into the contract by OCCAR in consultation with industry, the DGA and the French Navy.

The FREMM programme remains the most ambitious and largest European naval initiative led by OCCAR. With a total of 18 frigates (eight ordered by France and ten by Italy), the French FREMM frigates will form the backbone of the French surface fleet.

The FREDA frigates are equipped with the most advanced weapon systems, such as Heracles Multifunction Radar, ASTER 15/30 Missiles, Exocet MM40 Missiles, MU 90 Torpedoes and increased performance of the combat system and communications.

Defence and Intervention Frigate

On Monday 7 November, the first defence and intervention frigate ordered by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) and destined to the French Navy was floated out in Lorient. Named Amiral Ronarc’h, this frigate will be delivered in 2024.

Amiral Ronarc'h (D660)
Naval Group launches the first defense and intervention frigate (FDI) for the French Navy

The ceremony took place in presence of Sébastien Lecornu, French minister of the Armed Forces, and his Greek counterpart, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.

During the ceremony, Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group, said: «We are proud to be here today to mark this new milestone in the industrial production of the first defence and intervention frigate for the French Navy. These latest generation ships bring together the best of French naval know-how. The Navies operating them with benefit from a high-performance, resilient ship, capable of dealing with threats that are constantly evolving, thanks in particular to the use of the most modern digital technologies. Naval Group remains committed to offering its customers the best of its know-how, at the service of their sovereignty».

The first sea trials will begin in 2023 and the ship will be delivered in 2024. The remaining four ships of the series will be delivered until 2030. During this period, Naval Group will also produce three FDI frigates for the Hellenic Navy, with a fourth currently planned as an option.

 

A local and national industrial performance

Thanks to the investments made by Naval Group, the site of Lorient has a modern industrial infrastructure that enables it to meet the technical and technological challenges of designing and building naval vessels in series. Thanks to this industrial organisation that optimises construction times, Naval Group is able to deliver two ships per year at its Lorient site from 2025.

To deliver these frigates with the required military performance, Naval Group mobilizes a wide range of skills. Some of them are very specific and rare and are often the result of a long or even very long acquisition: sheet metal carpenter, formator-straightener, hull welder, pipe fitter.

To ensure the sustainability of these cutting-edge skills in the service of naval programs, Naval Group promotes the recruitment of young talents and has recruited almost 500 work-study students and over 1500 new employees since the beginning of the year.

The FDI program reinforces the technological lead of the French naval industrial base. The program supports employment in the shipbuilding industry throughout France and, more particularly, in Lorient. At Naval Group, more than 1,200 people are working full time on the programme with more than 400 subcontractors. The FDI program involves a large number of French and Greek partners, including Thales and MBDA.

 

FDI, the first innovative, 100% digital and cyber-secure multi-role combat frigate

The FDI is a high sea vessel. Multipurpose and resilient, she is capable of operating, alone or within a naval force. She offers capabilities for all types of warfare: anti-surface, anti-air, antisubmarine and as well as for special forces projection. Bringing together the best of French naval technologies on a compact platform, the FDI is a powerful and innovative frigate, designed to meet the evolution of threats.

Designed and produced using the latest digital tools, FDI is the first frigate to benefit from a digital architecture that will allow her continuous adaptation to technological and operational evolutions. As a result, the FDI will be able to address current and future threats and to handle always more data.

The FDI will be the first French frigate natively protected against cyber threats, with two data centers virtually accommodating a great part of the ship applications. The FDI introduces the concept of a dedicated system for asymmetric warfare. This system will enable the coordination and conduct of the fight against small and close air and surface threats, including booby trapped boats.

Strongly armed (Exocet MM40 B3C anti-surface missiles, Aster anti-air missiles, MU90 antisubmarine torpedoes, artillery), the FDI is able to embark simultaneously a helicopter (10 tons class such as NH90) or the future Joint Light Helicopter and an unmanned aerial vehicle (up to 700 kg/1,543 lbs.). She can also receive a Special Forces detachment with their two commando boats. They are equipped with the new generation Seafire radar with four fixed panels, developed by Thales, which, combined with the missile delivery system, offers unmatched area defence capabilities.

 

Technical specifications

Displacement 4,500 tons class
Length 122 meters/400 feet
Beam 18 meters/59 feet
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Autonomy 45 days
Accomodation 125-persons crew + 28 passengers

 

SCORPION programme

The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has awarded the order for conditional tranche 4 (TC4) of the SCORPION programme to Nexter, Arquus and Thales, operating through the EBMR consortium.

JAGUAR
JAGUAR armoured reconnaissance and fighting vehicle

Tranche TC4 corresponds to an additional 88 JAGUAR armoured reconnaissance and fighting vehicles and 302 GRIFFON multirole armoured vehicles. This new order will bring the number of JAGUAR and GRIFFON vehicles ordered to 150 and 909 respectively, in line with the target laid out in France’s 2019-25 Military Programming Law. This represents half of the French government’s total commitment for JAGUARs and GRIFFONs (excluding the MEPAC variant) to be acquired under the SCORPION programme to renew the medium-tonnage segment of the French Army’s armoured vehicle fleet. The TC4 award comes shortly after an order was placed for 54 GRIFFON MEPAC versions, which are equipped with a 120-mm mortar, with deliveries scheduled from 2024.

GRIFFON
GRIFFON multirole armoured vehicle

These two awards were announced by the French Prime Minister during his visit to Nexter’s Roanne site on 19 February. This latest order underscores France’s continuing confidence in the EBMR consortium partners, which have been ensuring on-time deliveries since the beginning of the programme. It provides Nexter, Arquus and Thales, as well as the entire land defence industrial and technological base in France, with better visibility of their industrial activity through to 2025.

Jacques Chevallier

On 29 April, the first of the four force replenishment vessels BRF (Bâtiments Ravitailleurs de Force in French) of the FlotLog program was launched in Saint-Nazaire.

Jacques Chevallier (A725)
Launching of the Jacques Chevallier (A725), first Replenishment Vessel for the French Navy

The Bâtiment Ravitailleur de Forces Jacques Chevallier (A725) is the first of a series of four ships intended for the French Navy. The contract was awarded in January 2019 to Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Naval Group. The four vessels will be delivered successively until 2029.

The FlotLog program is part of a Franco-Italian cooperation led by Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement (OCCAR) on behalf of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and its Italian counterpart Naval Armament Directorate (NAVARM), within the Logistic Support Ship (LSS) program.

The BRF Jacques Chevallier (A725) was launched on 29 April in Saint-Nazaire. The ceremony took place in the presence of Laurent Castaing, General Manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Pierre Éric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group, Matteo Bisceglia, Director of OCCAR, François Pintart, Director of Operations of DGA and Admiral Xavier Baudouard, Commander of the French Naval Action Force.

Laurent Castaing, General Manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique said: «Our industrial facilities enabled us to assemble the 20 blocks of the BRF Jacques Chevallier’s hull in a record time of 50 days. This demonstrates that our expertise as manufacturer of civilian ships can greatly benefit the military in terms of time, cost and quality control».

«Naval Group is proud to be once again present alongside Chantiers de l’Atlantique in this European program. This BRF, the first of a series of four ships, is a strong symbol of Franco-Italian cooperation. It is also a new successful cooperation between Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Naval Group, which combine their skills in order to offer the DGA and the French Navy the best expertise in the civil and military sectors in the construction of ships of heavy tonnages», added Pierre Éric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group.

The first sea trials will start in the second half of 2022, with delivery of the first unit scheduled for the first half of 2023.

 

A strategic industrial partnership serving the French Navy

The design and construction of the four ships of the FlotLog program is the result of a successful industrial cooperation between Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Naval Group, driven by OCCAR, in close collaboration with the DGA and the French Navy.

Chantiers de l’Atlantique carries out the global design and the construction of the four ships, and ensures the integration and the implementation of the embedded systems. Naval Group is responsible for the design, development and integration of the combat system and the systems destined to receive aircraft and to embark ammunition.

The BRFs, which will replace the French Navy’s Durance-class ships, have a mission of logistical support of the combat vessels of the French Navy deployed as part of the naval air group or naval task groups. With a capacity of 13,000 m3, they carry fuel, ammunition, spare parts, as well as food for the vessels. These tankers will also participate to support missions for inter-allied operations, underlining the need for interoperable equipment. As a true link in the fleet, these tankers will enable France to continue to have an ocean-going navy, capable of conducting long-term operations far from the national territory and thus maintaining its strategic autonomy.

This new series of the logistics fleet is equipped with self-defence capacities. The combat system of the four ships, whose architecture is based on Naval Group’s Combat Management System, ensures the protection against close threats and the fight against asymmetric surface and air threats.

In line with international standards, the BRFs will replace the current tankers with increased capabilities and modern equipment in order to support the aviation group constituted around the aircraft-carrier.

The Jacques Chevallier (A725), named after the naval engineer and father of French nuclear propulsion, will carry up to 31,000 tons at full load, making it the second heaviest ship in the French Navy, after the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. It will be based in Toulon.

 

Main Characteristics of the vessels

Full loaded displacement 31,000 tons
Overall length 194 m/636.5 feet
Overall width 27.60 m/90.5 feet
Crew capacity 190 people, including 130 crew members and 60 passengers
Total deadweight 14,870 tons
Freight volume 13,000 m3
Total installed capacity 24 MW

 

Sea Trials

On February 22, 2022, Naval Group started the first sea trials of the FREMM DA ‘Lorraine’ (D657), an important step before the frigate’s delivery. For several days, the eighth FREMM to be delivered to the French Navy and second with enhanced air defence capabilities (FREMM DA), will undergo sea trials off the coast of Brittany.

Lorraine (D657)
Lorraine (D657), the 8th and final Aquitaine-class frigate, setting sails from the Naval Group shipyard in Lorient to start initial sea trials (Naval Group picture)

Ordered by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), on behalf of the French Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) is the eighth and last multi-mission frigate to be built for the French Navy. It is also the second FREMM with enhanced air defence capabilities (FREMM DA).

Two hundred and fifty people are mobilized to prepare this first sea trial. This session will enable the performance of the ship’s propulsion and navigation systems to be tested. Several campaigns will then be carried out to test all the systems. FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) will then be delivered by the end of the year.

«This first sea trial is a very important moment, especially as this is the last frigate of the FREMM series. This is the first time the ship has been at sea. This milestone also symbolizes three years of preliminary work with our teams and partners. Thanks to exchanges since the beginning of this program in 2005, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) carries the most recent and efficient technologies on board», said Didier Trehin, Naval Group’s on-board manager for this first campaign.

After being launched in November 2020, the first sea trial of the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) is taking place on schedule and in accordance with the company’s contractual commitment to deliver the ship in 2022. Naval Group’s teams and partners’ have been mobilized to meet this milestone despite the Covid crisis.

The FREMM program proceeds according to the schedule established by the last Military Planning Law (LPM). Seven FREMMs have already been delivered to the French Navy between 2012 and 2021. Aquitaine (D650) in 2012, Provence (D652) in 2015, Languedoc (D653) in 2016, Auvergne (D654) in April 2017, Bretagne (D655) in July 2018, Normandie (D651) in July 2019 and Alsace (D656) in April 2021. Internationally, the Mohammed VI (701) was delivered to Morocco in 2014 and the Tahya Misr (FFG-1001) delivrerd to Egypt in 2015.

 

FREMM benefited from the program’s feedback, from the start of the construction

With 3,500 hours at sea per year, the FREMMs’ level of availability at sea is unmatched and is an important source of information. The permanent dialogue between the navies, the DGA, the OCCAR, as well as the construction and maintenance teams, enables Naval Group to propose technologies adapted to the evolution of its customers’ operational needs.

As a result of this operational feedback, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) benefits from the deployment of new functions: enhanced cyber capabilities, deployment of Liaison 22 (link between NATO military units), reduced width mast, replacement of the optronic artillery fire control by a radar/optronic fire control, or the integration of a tactical table.

 

A polyvalent FREMM that has mobilized all the know-how of Naval Group and its industrial partners

Multi-mission frigates, designed and built by Naval Group, are polyvalent, stealthy and highly automated ships capable of responding to all types of air, sea, submarine or land threats.

The operational excellence of FREMMs is recognized worldwide, such as by the U.S. Navy, whose 6th Fleet has awarded the Hook’em Award to four FREMMs for their excellence in anti-submarine warfare two years in a row.

A multi-mission frigate represents four million hours of work, about half of which benefits the supply chain and local actors. The design, construction and maintenance of FREMMs mobilize two hundred and fifty unique skills, some of which are so specific that they require up to eleven years of training (carpenter-sheet metal worker, hull welder, boilermaker, etc.).

The frigate will be based in Toulon alongside the FREMM DA Alsace (D656) to provide air defence for major units such as the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier or the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA), as part of a naval or amphibious strike group. The FREMMs with enhanced air capabilities, Alsace (D656) and Lorraine (D657), are thus able to carry out the same anti-submarine warfare missions as the other FREMMs in the series, in addition to their enhanced air capabilities.

The FREMM DA also use the most advanced weapons and equipment systems such as the Herakles multifunction radar supplied by Thales, the Aster 15 and 30 and Exocet MM 40 missiles, the MU 90 torpedoes and three additional Combat Management System Setis consoles in the «central operations». Like the other FREMMs, the Lorraine will carry the NH90 helicopter (Caiman Marine), whose use is supported by the SAMAHE system supplied by Naval Group.

 

Characteristics

Total length 466 feet/142 m
Width 65.6 feet/20 m
Displacement 6,000 tonnes
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Operation 123 persons (+ 14 people for the helicopter detachment)
Accommodation capacity 165 men and women
Cruising range at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h 6,000 nautical miles/6,905 miles/11,112 km

 

Gendarmerie Nationale

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract, on behalf of the Ministry of Interior, for the procurement and maintenance of 10 H160s in a law enforcement configuration for the Gendarmerie Nationale. Linked to the contract for the procurement of 169 H160Ms for the French Ministry of Armed Forces, this order is part of the Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020.

H160
France becomes first H160 law enforcement customer

«The French Ministry of Interior contract is an important milestone for the H160. We now have customers for the offshore transportation, private and business aviation, search and rescue and law enforcement mission segments, showing that the H160 is a truly versatile aircraft», said Bruno Even, CEO Airbus Helicopters. «Developing this new configuration for the H160 in cooperation with an experienced customer like the Gendarmerie Nationale is key to the success of the programme».

France is the first country to order the H160 for law enforcement missions. The H160s for the Gendarmerie Nationale will be equipped with a Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, winching, and fast roping capabilities. The air force command centre of the Gendarmerie Nationale and Airbus Helicopters are also working closely together to develop a tailored mission management system.

The French Gendarmerie Nationale already operates a wide fleet of Airbus helicopters from the H125, H135 and H145 families. On top of its improved performances and advanced mission systems, the H160 will bring a new troop transport capability for the French Ministry of Interior’s security forces, mainly tactical units, such as the Gendarmerie Nationale’s Intervention Group (GIGN). The first H160s will be delivered before the Olympic Games that will take place in Paris in 2024.

The first of a new generation of helicopter, the EASA-certified H160 benefits from a low cost of operations and optimized flight safety. With its light maintenance plan aligned between engine and aircraft, the H160 optimizes operating costs and offers a new standard in availability. The Gendarmerie’s H160s will benefit from a global support contract to be managed by Airbus Helicopters including technical support, spare parts stocks on four Gendarmerie bases, and connected services.

French Guépard

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters for the development and procurement of the H160M in the frame of the Light Joint Helicopter programme (HIL). The contract includes the development of several prototypes and the delivery of a first batch of 30 aircraft (21 for the army, 8 for the navy and one for the air force). The French Ministry for the Armed Forces plans to order a total of 169 H160M helicopters, or Guépard as it will be known in the French armed forces. Deliveries will start in 2027 beginning with the French Army.

H160M Guepard
France orders the H160M for its Joint Light Helicopter programme

«The Guépard is the result of ten years of close cooperation with the DGA and the French armed forces», said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «The H160M will bring new capabilities to the armed forces as it is adapted to modern warfare thanks to its increased connectivity, maneuverability, low acoustic footprint, and a fully integrated support system. Having the French armed forces, a world reference, as our launch customer for the H160M is extremely valuable».

The first of a new generation of helicopters, the H160M is derived from the EASA-certified H160. It benefits from a low cost of operations and optimised flight safety. The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force. To ensure a high level of availability while reducing operating costs, the H160M’s support and services needs were taken into account from early in its design phase. Innovative and simplified, the H160M’s support is based on the exploitation of data through analytics.

Airbus Helicopters will guarantee a high level of availability through an innovative maintenance contract. Airbus Helicopters commits to an innovative management of maintenance and aircraft availability through a dedicated organization that has proven to be successful. This organization was introduced with the global support contract signed in 2020 for the French Cougar and Caracal fleet and has led to a significant increase in aircraft availability.

Trials conducted in the Moroccan desert in July 2021 demonstrated the efficiency of the H160’s inlet barrier filtration system in protecting the Safran Arrano engines against sand ingestion. The tests in the desert also demonstrated the efficiency of the automatic flight control system during the takeoff and landing operations with limited visibility due to sand clouds. The H160M will be ready to operate in the roughest conditions.

The military version of the H160 will be more discreet than previous helicopters with a reduced acoustic signature made possible by the Blue Edge blades. The H160’s stability, maneuverability, and an automatic flight control system will be key assets for the military version. The H160M will be equipped with Airbus Helicopters’ HForce weapon system, a modular and incremental solution enabling the use of a large choice of weapons. Equipment will also include a hoist and a fast roping arm.

The H160M Guépard will be equipped with the Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, the Thales FlytX cockpit avionics suite, and AirMaster C radar. The pilots will be able to use the Thales TopOwl Helmet-mounted Sight & Display. The Guépard will also carry a self-protection suite, a satellite communication system and tactical data link system. The weapon package will include the MBDA ANL anti-ship missile, pod mounted and door mounted guns.

CERES space system

The CERES space system (Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatiale or Space-based Signal Intelligence Capability) satellites designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales for the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) have been successfully launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana, on-board a Vega launcher.

CERES
CERES reconnaissance space system designed by Airbus and Thales successfully launched

«We are ready to go with the next generation of space surveillance capability for France: CERES! Entrusting Airbus with the construction and full space system responsibility is a ringing endorsement of our expertise and the quality of our technology, acquired in particular from the ESSAIM and ELISA demonstrators», said Jean Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. «The three CERES satellites will provide France with its first satellite system for signal intelligence, thus confirming our ability to act as prime contractor for French space-based intelligence systems», he continued.

CERES is designed to detect and geo-locate electromagnetic signals from radio communication systems and radars from areas where surface sensors cannot reach. From its low Earth orbit, CERES is free from airspace overflight constraints and can operate in all types of weather. The system will provide in-depth information to support military operations for the French Armed Forces, thus improving situational awareness.

«CERES will complete the French strategic and tactical defence intelligence capability with its first signal intelligence (SIGINT) satellite system. DGA trusts Thales to be in charge of the CERES end-to-end mission performance, for which we rely on our experience of more than 20 years in space-based SIGINT, especially with ESSAIM and ELISA, our unique know-how in satellite payloads and user ground segments, and our wide knowledge in SIGINT and electronic warfare in all environments», said Philippe Duhamel, Executive Vice-President, Defence Mission Systems at Thales.

The system includes the space segment consisting of a swarm of three identical satellites carrying the SIGINT payload, as well as the user and ground control segments.

Airbus Defence and Space and Thales are co-contractors for the full end-to-end system. Airbus is responsible for the global system integration and the space segment comprising the three satellites, while Thales is responsible for full mission chain and system performance, going from on-board payload to user ground segment. In addition, Thales Alenia Space acted as a subcontractor to Airbus in supplying the satellites’ platforms. The French space agency, CNES, as assisting partner to the DGA, procured the launch services and the ground control segment.

CERES draws on Airbus and Thales’ experience acquired from the ESSAIM (communications intelligence) and ELISA (electronic intelligence) micro-satellite demonstrators launched in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The technical and operational lessons learnt from these systems were key to enabling the very high performance in electromagnetic detection and compatibility, demanded by this mission.

Full digital radar

Thales Sea Fire, full digital radar is qualified by the DGA after exhaustive and thorough testing in Saint-Mandrier, the reference trial centre for the French naval forces. The radar is now handed over to Naval Group for integration into combat system on-board the FDI frigates.

Thales Sea Fire
Thales digital radar, Sea Fire, qualified and ready for integration on France’s future FDI frigates combat system

Over a period of 18 months, the Sea Fire radar underwent a substantial number of land-based tests, mobilising a vast panel of resources and combined teams from the DGA, Thales and Naval Group. All testing took place at the Shore Integration Facility (SIF) on the DGA’s SESDA site in Saint-Mandrier in the South of France – a major testing reference centre in Europe for the naval sector. Since 1969, this facility has been testing and qualifying ashore every combat system and critical sensors of major ships (frigates and aircraft carriers) in service within the French Navy.

Evaluated and tested against an extensive range of situations including surface targets (light boats, surface vessels…), air targets (helicopters, jets, missiles, drones, etc.) in various environments. – the Sea Fire assured its ground-breaking ability to search simultaneously for air and surface targets in a difficult environment, scanning a range of several hundred kilometres with 90° in elevation and an unmatched refresh rate.

Thanks to the Sea Fire’s unique full digital technology (for instance digital beamforming), the radar delivers enhanced performance for all missions through dynamic radar resource management with very short response time. This digital radar is at the forefront of technological innovation and benefits from all Thales’s Big Data and cybersecurity expertise.

In addition, through its advanced radar software, the digital nature of the Sea Fire made possible the implementation of a high fidelity digital twin. Compared to classical simulations, the digital twin of the Sea Fire truly reproduces the radars’ behaviour and performance. It supports radar development throughout the product life cycle from initial development to in-service support, operation and upgrades. The use of a digital twin played a key role in securing the development schedule of the Sea Fire despite the Covid-19 crisis.

Assembled in Limours, south of Paris, with the contribution of a network of French small and medium- sized companies, Sea Fire production started in May 2018 and the first FDI shipset was delivered in May 2021 (4 panels).

Patrouilleur d’Outre-Mer

According to Naval News, French shipbuilder Socarenam launched the first ship in a new class of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) for the French Navy. The «Auguste Benebig» was launched at the Socarenam shipyard in Saint Malo (Brittany) on 15 October 2021 as part of the POM (Patrouilleur d’Outre-Mer) program.

POM (Patrouilleur d’Outre-Mer)
The first POM OPV for the French Navy being towed from Saint Malo to Boulogne sur Mer for final outfitting at Socarenam shipyard. Picture by Albatros Lines Navigation (LinkedIn account)

The Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Admiral Vandier said: «A new step towards the renewal of our overseas assets has just been taken with the launch of the hull of the first Overseas Patrol Boat (POM). From 2023, it will protect our national interests from New Caledonia».

Right after the launch in Saint Malo, the hull of the ship was towed to Socarenam’s main site in Boulogne-sur-mer (North of France), for final outfitting. This is shown by pictures shared on LinkedIn by local company Albatros Lines Navigation.

Following outfitting and builder trials, the «Auguste Benebig» will be handed over next year. The ship will then 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. The vessel will achieve active duty in 2023.

For the 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 (Direction Générale de l’Armement, DGA). Intended for the French Navy, these OPVs will be based in French overseas territories to replace ageing P400-class patrol boats.

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.

Two patrol boats will each be based in New Caledonia (Nouméa), French Polynesia (Papeete) and La Réunion (Port-des-Galets). The first of them, based in New Caledonia, will be christened August Bénébig, a native of Noumea and will be followed by the Jean Tranape. Those destined for French Polynesia will be baptized Teriieroo a teriierooiterai and Philippe Bernardino, those in La Réunion Auguste Techer and Félix Éboué.

The POM will have an endurance of 30 days without refueling. Each ship will accommodate a crew of 30 sailors and 23 passengers and operate an unmanned aerial vehicle (SMDM Aliaca by Survey Copter). Their armament will include a 20-mm caliber remote-controlled turret (Narwhal by Nexter), as well as 12.7-mm and 7.62-mm machine guns. Nexeya is supplying the combat management system. HENSOLDT UK is supplying the Kelvin Hughes Mk11 SharpEye surface search radars with combined HENSOLDT MSSR 2000 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems. Vestdavit is supplying fast rescue boat davit systems.

The POM vessel are 79.9 meters/262 feet long and 11.8 meters/38.7 feet wide, with a draft of 3.5/11.5 feet meters for a displacement of 1,300 tons at full load.