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.
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.