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.
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.
|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|