Tag Archives: Naval Group

Brazilian Scorpène

On Thursday September 1st, the first of the four Scorpène submarines of the ProSub program was commissioned by the Brazilian Navy. The Riachuelo (S40) has been built entirely in Brazil by Itaguaí Construções Navais (ICN) thanks to a Transfer of Technology programme from Naval Group. The ceremony took place at the Itaguaí Naval base.

Riachuelo (S40)
Delivery and commissioning of the Riachuelo, the first Brazilian Scorpène submarine entirely made in Brazil

Launched in December 2018, the Riachuelo successfully completed her sea trials and has now been delivered and entered into service within the Brazilian Navy.

Pierre Éric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group said: «The commissioning of the Riachuelo is a major milestone for the Brazilian Navy, ICN, Naval Group and all our partners. She will bring new capabilities to the Brazilian Navy for decades to come. The successful delivery of the Riachuelo, the first Scorpene submarine entirely built in Brazil is proof of the success of Naval Group’s transfer of technology. We are proud to be part of the ProSub program and remain fully committed to deliver the three other units of the series».

In Brazil, Naval Group went further than ever before in terms of transfer of technology. The Scorpène submarines are manufactured and assembled in the shipyard built in Itaguaí by Itaguaí Construções Navais, the group’s joint venture with Novonor. Humaitá (S41), the second submarine of the series launched in December 2020, will start her trials in September 2022.

ICN employs more than 1,700 Brazilian employees. Naval Group has selected and qualified many local suppliers who have joined its supply chain for the ProSub contract but also for other business opportunities. In this way, the company’s partners can have access to new markets by putting forward the know-how and experience acquired through the program. Naval Group thus contributes to the development of a robust Brazilian naval industrial ecosystem. Hundreds of Naval Group employees are also working in the back office on all French sites.

 

Naval Group, a long-term partner of Brazil

In 2009, within the framework of the French-Brazilian strategic defence cooperation agreement, the Brazilian Navy chose Naval Group for its Programa de desenvolvimento de Submarinos, the ProSub program. Brazil decided to reinforce its submarine force with four new conventional submarines (SSK) and the development of an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine (SSN).

Through an unprecedented transfer of technology, Naval Group is working with Brazil to build and operate four conventional Riachuelo-class submarines (Scorpène type) in a new shipyard and operational naval base built in Itaguaí for this purpose.

 

Scorpène, a modern, high-performant, and stealthy submarine

The Scorpène is a 2000-tons conventional submarine designed by Naval Group for all types of missions, such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes, special operations or intelligence gathering. Extremely stealthy and fast, it has a level of operating automation that allows a limited number of crew, which reduces its operating costs significantly. Its combat edge is highlighted by the fact that it has 6 weapon launching tubes, 18 weapons (torpedoes, missiles).

With 14 submarines sold worldwide, the Scorpène is a key reference of conventional attack submarines (SSK) for navies around the world. It can be easily adapted to specific requirements of customers and the continuous improvement of the Scorpene ensures the seamless integration of the latest technology onboard.

rMCM program

On 14 June 2022, Naval Group has laid the keel for the second of the twelve mine countermeasure platforms of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program, the HNLMS Vlissingen, intended for the Royal Netherlands Navy. The keel laying ceremony took place in Lanester, in the presence of Vice Admiral René Tas, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Commodore Harold Boekholt, Director of Projects of the Netherlands Defence Material Organisation, Lieutenant General Marc Thys, Belgian Deputy Chief of Defence and Major General Ivan De Tender, Belgian Material Resources Public Procurement.

HNLMS Vlissingen
Naval Group lays the keel for the second mine countermeasure platform of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM programme

This programme was awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium formed by Naval Group and ECA Group, following an international competition. It provides for the supply to the Belgian Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy of twelve mine countermeasures platforms and around a hundred drones integrated inside a toolbox that will equip the vessels.

Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, is in charge of the production of the twelve platforms which are assembled in Concarneau and Lanester. They will be then all armed afloat by Piriou in Concarneau. Naval Group, as overall architect and prime contractor, is responsible for the design of the ships, the overall integration, and the testing and commissioning of the mission system (combat system and mine countermeasures system). ECA Group, as co-contractor, is in charge of the unmanned drones’ system. The drones will be produced in ECA Group factory (Ostend, Belgium). The maintenance of the ships will be carried out in Belgium in close collaboration between the Belgian Navy and Naval Group Belgium, with the assistance of its partner Flanders Ship Repair.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group said: «I am very pleased to welcome our customers here in Lanester to take this new important step in the programme. The rMCM programme is a great story of cooperation between European partners, but also between industrial partners. It is also the story of a shared vision for the future of mine warfare and naval defence. Together, we are preparing the future of mine countermeasures by sharing a common game-changing defence solution».

Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group added: «We are very happy to be present at this ceremony alongside our partner Naval Group. All ECA Group teams are mobilised for the success of this highly innovative program: it aims at an unprecedented level of automation of mine warfare operations, with the coordinated implementation of underwater, surface and aerial drones. In close collaboration with Naval Group teams, we are developing an integrated and optimised system to meet the requirements of our Belgian and Dutch customers».

Chief of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Vice Admiral Rene Tas stresses the importance of these platforms for the future proofing of mine counter measures and therefore, the safety of (commercial) vessels at sea for the Netherlands and our NATO Partners.

These specialised Mine CounterMeasures (MCM) platforms are the first to have the capability to embark and launch a combination of surface drones (themselves 12-metre/39-foot, 20-tonne vessels), underwater drones and aerial drones. The mine countermeasures platforms will use a mainly autonomous system for detection, classification and neutralisation of mines. They can withstand underwater explosions and have very low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, in line with the missions to be carried out.

 

These mine countermeasure platforms have the following characteristics:

Length 82,6 m/271 feet
Width 17 m/56 feet
Displacement 2800 t
Maximum speed 15,3 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range >3500 nautical miles/4028 miles/6482 km
Crew 63 people (base crew 33 people)
Drone capabilities ECA Group’s UMISOFT System, 2 unmanned surface vehicles (ECA Group’s Inspector 125), 3 autonomous underwater vehicles (A-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 120 sonar), 2 towed sonars (T-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 240 sonar), 2 Mine Identification & Disposal Systems (MIDS) systems (ECA Group’s Seascan et K-Ster C), 2 unmanned aerial vessels (UMS Skeldar’s V200), 1 ECA Group influence mine sweeping system integrating 5 CTM magnetic modules et 1 PATRIA acoustic module
Embarkation capacity 2 SOLAS rigid hull inflatable boats of 7 m/23 feet
Handling 2 side gantries with floating cradle for surface drones and commando boats, a 15 t dedicated rear crane and a 3 t overhead crane

 

Al Emarat

On May 13th 2022, Al Emarat (P111), the second Gowind corvette ordered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Naval Group, has been launched in Lorient in presence of an official delegation from the United Arab Emirates Navy.

Al Emarat (P111)
Naval Group launches the second Gowind corvette for the United Arab Emirates Navy

In 2019, the United Arab Emirates ordered two Gowind corvettes to be built in France. The first corvette, Bani Yas (P110), was launched in December 2021. The second one, Al Emarat (P111), has been launched on May 13th in the Naval Group Lorient shipyard.

Naval Group, as a turn-key solution provider, will also train the UAE Navy’s crew from the equipment level up to the operational level. Starting in France, this preparation will continue with team-building and practice on operational scenarios in every warfare area in the Gulf.

Stéphane Frémont, Director of Surface Ship Programs at Naval Group, said: «The launching of Gowind Al Emarat (P111) is a major industrial and symbolic milestone, where the corvette reaches her natural environment. The two Bani Yas class vessels benefit from the modular design of the Gowind family and are the perfect asset to help the UAE Navy meet the challenges of today and tomorrow thanks to the most advanced technologies».

Gowind enjoys significant commercial success as 12 units have already been sold. Most of them are built locally through Transfer of Technology and partnerships with local industry, for example in Egypt where three units are now in service within the Egyptian Navy.

 

Gowind: designed for naval operations

Gowind is Naval Group’s response to 21st century security and defence challenges. It is a corvette-size multi-mission Surface Combatant offering capabilities in all areas. It is designed to perform the full spectrum of naval defence operations and maritime security roles, with the highest level of performance.

Sturdy, strongly equipped, highly manoeuvrable, Gowind integrates, through Naval Group’s SETIS Combat Management System (CMS) and innovative structural solutions, the latest generation sensors and weapons. Designed to be used against air, naval or underwater threats from the initial steps of the engineering process, Gowind is multipurpose by design.

Gowind is a sea proven, enduring, stealth and highly survivable platform offering:

  • high performance warfare capabilities integrated through the SETIS CMS and an efficient and innovative Panoramic Sensors and Intelligence Module (PSIM);
  • automated systems for user-friendly operations by an optimized crew;
  • large and smart deployable assets: heavy helicopter, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs);
  • growth potential driven by customer requirement and innovation.

 

Technical features

Overall hull length 102 m/334.6 feet
Overall beam 16 m/52.5 feet
Displacement 2,800 t

 

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

 

Bartolomé Cordero

The last of the four Argentinian Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), OPV 87 A.R.A. Contraalmirante Cordero, was delivered on April 13, 2022 to the Argentine Navy. The delivery and commandment handover ceremony of the last vessel of the series marks the completion of a successful program.

ARA Almirante Bartolomé Cordero (P-54)
Naval Group delivers the last multi-mission offshore patrol vessel for Argentina

A.R.A. Contraalmirante Cordero has been delivered to the Argentine Navy today in Concarneau in the presence of Francisco Cafiero, Secretary for International Defence Affairs at the Argentine Ministry of Defence, Vice Admiral Enrique Antonio Traina, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Argentine Navy and Alain Guillou, EVP International Development at Naval Group. It is part of the contract signed by Naval Group with Argentina in 2019 for the supply of four Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV – «Patrulleros Oceánicos Multipropósito» in Spanish).

The A.R.A. Contraalmirante Cordero is the last vessel of the series and its delivery marks the success of a program that has met all its deadlines: the A.R.A. Bouchard (ex-L’Adroit) was delivered in December 2019 two months ahead of schedule, and the second and third offshore patrol vessels A.R.A Piedrabuena and A.R.A Storni were delivered in April and October 2021, in line with the original schedule.

This success was made possible thanks to the close collaboration between Naval Group, Kership and Piriou, who worked side by side with the Argentinean Navy. The excellent overall customer satisfaction rate, measured at 97%, confirms the excellent conduct of this program.

Captain Santiago Villemur, representative of the Argentinian Navy in France said: «We are conscious that delivering 4 ships in 3 years, training the crews and providing the associated logistics services was a real challenge. Our thanks and gratitude go to all the men and women of Naval Group and its industrial partners who have worked tirelessly to achieve this feat. These ships are already contributing to the defence of Argentina’s sovereign interests by enabling the Argentine Armada to carry out its missions at sea».

Stéphanie Giroud, director of the program at Naval Group added: «It is with great pride and emotion that we are delivering the last vessel of the series to Argentina on the exact date stipulated in the contract and are witnessing the raising of the Argentinean flag in Brittany for the fourth time. The success of this project is a collective one and is due to the excellence of the relationship established with the Argentinean Armada, whose high standards and confidence have motivated our teams to meet the client’s expectations to the maximum. It is also the result of a constructive and innovative industrial partnership between the teams of Naval Group, Kership and Piriou».

 

OPV 87, an innovative and sea proven vessel

The Argentine offshore patrol vessels benefit from innovations developed by Naval Group and proven by the French Navy, which has operated L’Adroit in several oceans for six years for multiple maritime security operations, alone or in cooperation. The three patrol vessels of the series constructed in Concarneau offer the same assets and features as those of the A.R.A. Bouchard. Several developments have been incorporated to meet the needs of the Argentine Navy as closely as possible. Better armed and motorised than the Bouchard, equipped with an active stabilisation system and a bow thruster, it is also Ice proven, i.e., adapted to navigation in the cold waters of Antarctica. They offer:

  • very high endurance and excellent sea-worthiness;
  • a 360° visibility from the bridge and a unique mast for a panoramic radar coverage;
  • the rapid, safe and discrete deployment of intervention crafts launched by a double system of ramps at the stern of the patrol vessel.

This range of ships also benefits from Naval Group’s expertise in information and command systems, allowing for extensive surveillance of the maritime space and the detection of suspicious behaviours. The A.R.A Contraalmirante Cordero is equipped with the POLARIS system and NiDL tactical data link system, specifically developed by Naval Group for state action missions at sea and sea-proven by the French Navy.

 

Technical features

The Offshore Patrol Vessel is able to stay on high seas during more than three weeks, to reach a speed of 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h and to accommodate a helicopter. Implemented by a reduced crew of 40 members, it is also able to accommodate about twenty extra passengers.

 

Length 87 meters/285.4 feet
Beam 14 meters/45.9 feet
Displacement 1,650 tons
Maximum speed over 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Accommodation 59 (crew and passengers)
Endurance > 7,000 nautical miles/8,055 miles/12,964 km
Boarding capacity two light crafts of 9 meters/29.5 feet and one 10-ton class helicopter

 

Hellenic Navy

On March 24, 2022, Greece and Naval Group signed the contracts for three defence and intervention frigates, plus one optional, and their in-service support. Two FDI HN (Hellenic Navy) will be delivered in 2025 and the third one in 2026.

FDI HN (Hellenic Navy)
Greece launches its program for three defence and intervention frigates (FDI HN) with Naval Group

 

A new step in the strategic partnership with Greece

In accordance with the defence agreement signed last October between Greece and France, the Hellenic authorities have signed two contracts with Naval Group for the supply of three Defence and Intervention Frigates (FDI HN), plus one optional, as well as their in-service support.

The contracts include as well the supply of MU90 torpedoes and CANTO countermeasures. The contracts were signed today in Athens by Vice-Admiral (rtd) Aristeidis Alexopoulos, General Director of the General Directorate for Defence Investments and Armaments, and Pierre Éric Pommellet, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group, in the presence of the Greek Minister of Defence, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly.

Pierre Éric Pommellet, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group said: “Naval Group is proud, along with its French industrial partners Dassault, MBDA and Thales, to be a part of this new chapter in the strategic alliance between Greece and France. Greece has chosen the latest generation of frigates that bring together the best of French naval know-how and will strengthen the capabilities of the Hellenic Navy. The frigates program is the first of many steps in the partnership between Naval Group and the Hellenic Navy and will contribute to the development of the partnership between our countries, our navies and our industries for decades to come.”

The FDI HN will quickly and sustainably enhance the capabilities of the Hellenic Navy’s surface fleet as they will be delivered in a very short timeframe, starting in 2025 for the first two units and in 2026 for the third one.

 

A major program for the Hellenic industry

Thanks to a very ambitious cooperation plan with the Hellenic industry (HIP, Hellenic Industry Participation Plan), this program offers numerous industrial opportunities in Greece, creating jobs and skills in the country. Naval Group’s teams have been working in Greece for several months to establish partnerships with local industrial players with the objective of signing the first contracts in the coming months. With its R&D component, the cooperation plan is a sustainable plan that is fully in line with the objective of strengthening the European defence industrial and technological base through Franco-Greek cooperation.

 

A powerful, innovative and cyber-secure frigate

The FDI HN features high level capabilities in all warfare domains: anti-ship, anti-air, antisubmarine and special forces projection. Its air and surface defences are ensured by the most modern sensors, including the Thales Sea Fire, the first all-digital multifunction radar with an active antenna and fixed panels.

The FDI HN is equipped with a unique integrated mast that brings together all the airborne sensors, enabling permanent 360° surveillance. As the first frigate on the market to be natively protected against the cyber threat, the FDI HN is equipped with two data centers hosting almost all of the ship’s applications.

 

Technical specifications of the FDI HN

Displacement 4,500 tons
Length approximately 122 metres/400 feet
Width 18 metres/59 feet
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Aviation facilities 10-ton class helicopter, VTOL Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
The main armaments of the FDI HN are 32 Aster missiles developed by MBDA
8 Exocet MM40 B3C missiles developed by MBDA
Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) missiles
MU 90 torpedoes developed by Naval Group
76-mm gun
4 torpedo tubes
CANTO counter measures developed by Naval Group

 

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

 

Deployment and Recovery

During industrial tests conducted in Toulon, the solution for rallying, recovering, maintaining and launching surface drones (LARS, Launch and recovery system) developed by Belgium Naval & Robotics, a Naval Group and ECA Group consortium, has demonstrated its relevance and reliability in real conditions.

rMCM (Replacement Mine Counter Measure)
Belgium Naval & Robotics (BNR) solution for lateral deployment and recovery of drones successfully tested

On Thursday, January, the 13th, 2022, a demonstration of the deployment and recovery operation of the fully remotely operated USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) and a presentation of the test results took place in the presence of the Royal Belgian and Dutch navies as part of the rMCM (Replacement Mine Counter Measure) program.

The cooperation between the two companies combines Naval Group’s ability to design a platform integrated system that enables the safe deployment and recovery of ECA Group’s USV INSPECTOR 125 surface drones.

Result of several years of engineering development, this innovative system deploys laterally on each side of the vessel. This innovation doubles the deployment and recovery capacity.

The industrial tests carried out off Toulon, mobilized up to thirty consortium employees and made it possible to test this innovative technical solution up to sea state 4/5, 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h of wind and by day and by night. The analysis and processing of the information collected will enable the solution to be finalized and production of the system to be launched in the second semester of 2022.

Deploying and retrieving robotic drones provides the dual strategic advantage of extending the action capability of ships equipped with the solution, but also of protecting personnel and ships. Thanks to the stand-off solution proposed by Belgium Naval & Robotics (detection, identification and neutralization of mines without human intervention in situ), the Belgian and Dutch naval forces will be able to rely on these drones for mine clearance operations while remaining at a safe distance.

The tests brought together for the first time four subsystems designed by the consortium and allowed them to be tested in real conditions on the VN Rebel, a specially chartered vessel:

  • the LARS (Launch and Recovery System): equipped with automated arms that equip the two sides of the ships, it works like an elevator, allowing the launching and recovery of the floating dock that hosts the drones;
  • the floating dock: a «cradle» for hosting surface drones (USV). This particularly innovative system makes it possible to limit the swing phenomena by working in a combined and automated way with the kinematics of the gantry combining guide arms, winches and a synchronized system of absorption. The floating dock allows to limit the overall efforts while guaranteeing overall stability. Once lifted on board, the dock allows maintenance and reconfiguration of the USV without having to move it;
  • the security system: allows the drones to be locked in the floating dock. A real asset, securing the drones in their dock limits the need to move them for reconfiguration and maintenance, thus simplifying operations while protecting personnel from the risks inherent in handling.
  • the drone: ECA Group’s USV INSPECTOR 125 allows the deployment and recovery of:
    • an A-18 underwater drone, carrying the UMISAS synthetic interferometric side scan sonar for mine detection;
    • a T-18 towed sonar, carrying the UMISAS synthetic interferometric side scan sonar for mine detection;
    • a SEASCAN underwater drone for mine identification;
    • a K-STER C underwater drone for mine neutralization;
    • an influence mine sweep integrating magnetic, electric and acoustic modules.

Eric Perrot, Director of the rMCM program for Naval Group, said: «We are delighted with the success of these tests of the new surface drone deployment and recovery systems. This performance is the result of the collaboration between multiple partners in this project, first and foremost ECA Group. We have great faith in this technology and we thank the Belgian and Dutch navies for their confidence in us».

Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group said: «Today’s demonstration shows the relevance of ECA Group’s drone deployment and recovery solution. It is a constant dialogue between the Naval Group and ECA Group teams that has allowed this great result of integration of our systems. We are fully committed to the success of this highly innovative program».

The twelve ships (MCMPF) ordered by the Belgian and Dutch navies will be equipped with twenty-four of this innovative and now, proven solution. The first of class rMCM was laid down by Naval Group in Concarneau the 30th of November 2021.

These mine countermeasures vessels, capable of withstanding underwater explosions and equipped with low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, will be delivered between 2024 and 2030 to Zeebrugge, Belgium. They will be the first dedicated drone carriers in naval history, equipped to operate a fully robotic drone system for mine detection, classification and neutralization.

For defence and intervention

On Thursday 16 December in Lorient, Naval Group laid the keel of the first defence and intervention frigate (FDI) Amiral Ronarc’h ordered by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) and destined to the French Navy. This step marks the beginning of the assembly of the ship in the construction hall. The frigate will be delivered in 2024. It is the first of a series of five ships to be delivered between 2024 and 2030.

Amiral Ronarc'h
Naval Group lays the keel of the first defence and intervention frigate (FDI)

On the same day, the Panoramic Sensors and Intelligence Module (PSIM), the integrated mast of the FDI, was also powered up. This important milestone symbolises the start of the testing of the frigate’s complete combat system, several months before its final integration on the ship.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group, said: «We are proud to be here today to mark this major milestone in the industrial production of the first defence and intervention frigate for the French Navy. These multi-role, cyber-secure and scalable ships will ensure the superiority of information and engagement as well as the ability to last at sea of the naval forces that will operate them. Already chosen by Greece for its Navy, this ship will also enable Naval Group to develop its international outreach. We remain fully committed to empower the sovereignty of France and our partner countries».

 

Intense industrial activity at the Naval Group Lorient site: designer, builder and integrator of the ship

Five FDI frigates intended will be ordered by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) for the French Navy. This program reinforces the technological lead of the French naval industrial base, and of Naval Group in particular.

The first of the series will be named Amiral Ronarc’h, after a great admiral, Chief of Staff of the French Navy between 1919 and 1920, who distinguished himself during the First World War at the head of marines and sailors.

The FDI program will support employment in the shipbuilding industry throughout France and, more particularly, in Lorient and its Naval Group site.

Industrial key figures:

  • 100% digital conception – zero paper plans;
  • redundant and distributed IT architecture based on two data centres;
  • 1 million hours of production work for each unit of the series at Naval Group Lorient site;
  • 1 million hours of conception and development for the program;
  • more than 1,200 Naval Group staff working full time on the programme;
  • 400 subcontractors.

 

Many export opportunities

Naval Group is positioned on the segment of intermediary tonnage ships with Belh@rra, the name of the FDI frigate for export markets.

Following the signature on 28 September 2021 of a memorandum of understanding by the Greek Minister of Defence, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group and Eric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, negotiations are underway for the acquisition by Greece of three FDI HN frigates and one in option, all to be built in Lorient, as part of a strategic partnership between France and Greece.

 

An innovative, 100% digital and cyber-secure multi-role combat frigate

The FDI is a high sea vessel with a 4,500 tons class displacement. 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, anti-submarine 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.

It 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 centres 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 15/30 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/1543 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
Accommodation 125 + 28 passengers

 

rMCM program

On 30 November 2021, Naval Group has laid the keel for the first of the twelve mine countermeasure vessels of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program, intended for Belgium. The keel laying ceremony took place in Concarneau, in the presence of the Belgian Chief of Defence, Admiral Michel Hofman, and the Dutch Chief of Defence, General Onno Eichelsheim.

rMCM program
Naval Group lays the keel for the first mine countermeasure vessel of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program

This program was awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium formed by Naval Group and ECA Group, following an international competition. It provides for the supply to the Belgian Navy and the Royal Dutch Navy of twelve mine countermeasures vessels and around a hundred drones integrated inside a toolbox that will equip the vessels.

Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, is in charge of the production of the twelve vessels which are assembled in Concarneau. They will be armed afloat by Piriou. Naval Group, as overall architect and prime contractor, is responsible for the design of the ships, the overall integration, and the testing and commissioning of the mission system (combat system and mine countermeasures system). ECA Group, as co-contractor, is in charge of the unmanned drones’ system. Thedrones will be produced in ECA Group workshop (Ostend, Belgium). The maintenance of the ships will be carried out in Belgium in close collaboration between the Belgian Navy and Naval Group Belgium, with the assistance of its partner Flanders Ship Repair.

The first delivery is scheduled for the end of 2024 in Zeebrugge, Belgium. Deliveries will then be staggered until 2030.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group said: «We are very happy to be here in Concarneau to take this next step in the program with the keel laying of the first mine countermeasure vessel. This program is the result of European cooperation between Belgium and the Netherlands, in which Naval Group is proud to participate. It is also the result of a solid industrial partnership and of a commitment to competitiveness between Naval Group and ECA Group. Our teams will continue their hard work to deliver these latest generation ships, specialised in mine warfare and perfectly adapted to the operational use targeted by the Belgian and Dutch navies».

Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group said: «ECA Group is pleased to be present at this ceremony alongside its partner Naval Group. All ECA Group teams are mobilised for the success of this highly innovative program: it aims at an unprecedented level of automation of mine warfare operations, with the coordinated implementation of underwater, surface and aerial drones. In close collaboration with Naval Group teams, we are developing an integrated and optimised system to meet the requirements of our Belgian and Dutch customers».

«In the context of mine warfare, the idea of increasing the distance between the threat and the crews is not new», announced Admiral Hofman, Belgian Chief of Defence. «In the 2015 NATO Maritime Operations study, the main shortcomings of shipborne systems were slow operation, poor mine discrimination, inability to detect buried and drifting mines, self-defence and the ability of platforms to easily project globally. It was already clear that the existing conventional platforms could not meet all these challenges. Therefore, we were looking for a reliable partner to carry out this small revolution in mine warfare».

CPF BAM Claude Bultot, head of the program said: «The Belgian and Royal Netherlands Navy can be proud of this innovative and (r)evolutionary mine countermeasures replacement program. The ambition of this program is to become the world reference in this field».

His Dutch counterpart, Captain (E) Sander van Luik, added: «This project is a fine example for making European defence more efficient. By drawing a common set of requirements as a starting point, Belgium and the Netherlands are able to quickly put to sea an innovative concept. Agreeing on the principals first, avoids haggling over every single design detail. This also allows us to be more flexible and adaptive. Thus, our binational team has been able to work more effective, relying on both nations’ combined expertise, working with Belgium Naval & Robotics towards a new capacity that can meet the operational challenges of the decades ahead».

These specialised mine warfare vessels are the first to have the capability to embark and launch or fly a combination of surface drones (themselves 12-metre/39.4-foot, 20-tonne vessels), underwater drones and aerial drones. The mine countermeasures vessels will use a fully robotic system for detection, classification and neutralisation of mines. They can withstand underwater explosions and have very low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, in line with the missions to be carried out.

These mine countermeasure vessels have the following characteristics:

  • Length: 82.6 m/271 feet
  • Width: 17 m/55.77 feet
  • Displacement: 2800 t
  • Maximum speed: 15.3 knots/17.6 mph/28.3 km/h
  • Range: >3,500 nautical miles/4,028 miles/6,482 km
  • Crew: 63 people
  • Drone capabilities: ECA Group’s UMISOFT System, 2 unmanned surface vehicles (ECA Group’s Inspector 125), 3 autonomous underwater vehicles (A-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 120 sonar), 2 towed sonars (T-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 240 sonar), 2 Mine Identification & Destruction Systems (MIDS) systems (ECA Group’s Seascan et K-Ster C), 2 unmanned aerial vessels (UMS Skeldar’s V200), 1 ECA Group influence dredger integrating 5 CTM magnetic modules et 1 PATRIA acoustic module.
  • Embarkation capacity: 2 SOLAS rigid hull inflatable boats of 7 m/23 feet.
  • Handling: 2 side gantries with floating cradle for surface drones and commando boats, a 15t rear crane and a 3t overhead crane.