French company Naval Group has started sea trials of Suffren Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine

The sea trials of the Suffren, the first Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine, have just begun. They will enable the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy to test the performances of the submarine at sea before her delivery later this year. A total of six Barracuda-class vessels will be added to the French Navy’s fleet by 2030.

French company Naval Group has started sea trials of Suffren Barracuda class nuclear attack submarine 925 001 First sea trials of Suffren Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine for the French Navy. (Picture source Naval Group)

"The first sea trial of the Suffren is a source of great pride for Naval Group employees and their partners. I am extremely grateful for the efforts of our teams. They made it possible to start these trials while respecting strict compliance with the health and safety measures to protect the crew which is partly constituted of Naval Group members. These trials are additional proof of Naval Group's total commitment to the French Navy, the French defence procurement agency (DGA) as well as to the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome and the other industrial actors of the defence sector. Together, we are conducting the sea trials that will lead to the delivery of the Suffren and committed to the production of the other five submarines of the series, which is a major priority for the company”, declared Pierre Eric Pommellet, Naval Group’s Chairman and CEO.

This series of sea trials follow the divergence of the nuclear reactor which took place in December 2019 and the dock tests carried out since the launch of the submarine on July 12, 2019. The operations successively took place in the assembly hall as well as in the dry and water-filled docks to test equipment and systems, such as the combat system. Trials are conducted by joint teams from Naval Group, TechnicAtome and French authorities.

Sea trials constitute a crucial phase of qualification of on-board installations for a nuclear submarine and are aimed to ensure:

- water-tightness in underwater environment and maneuverability,
- performance of the combat system, tactical weapons and all the high-tech equipment which are on board of this new generation of nuclear attack submarine
- the full performance of its operational capacities.

The Suffren is the first of class, intended to replace the generation of Ruby-type SSNs. Naval Group is in charge of the production of this series of submarine -, from the design to the construction of the ship - and of the information systems, the manufacturing of the main components of the nuclear reactors as well as the maintenance of the ships in Toulon.

French company Naval Group has started sea trials of Suffren Barracuda class nuclear attack submarine 925 002

The SSN Suffren sea trials are a priority for the Ministry of Defence. Naval Group deployed a series of measures for the protection of the health and safety of the employees in order to continue the operations during the Covid-19 health crisis.

Since March 16 a series of security measures has been implemented – particularly for nuclear security - as part of Naval Group’s industrial continuity plan for the Cherbourg site and the Barracuda program.

Steps were also taken in conjunction with occupational healthcare authorities to the ensure health and safety of the team. Protocols include, for example, systematic compliance with hygiene and disinfection rules and the mandatory use of masks.

In addition, preventive self-isolation measures and screening tests have been carried out on all industrial, military and state members of the team taking part in the sea trials.

Finally, the sea trials protocols were adapted, by reducing by 20% the number of people onboard.

The Barracuda class (or Suffren class) is a nuclear attack submarine, designed by the French shipbuilder Naval Group (formerly known as DCNS and DCN) for the French Navy. It is intended to replace the Rubis-class submarines. It is powered by a nuclear propulsion system using new hybrid design that provides electric propulsion for economical cruise speeds and turbo-mechanical propulsion for higher speeds.

The armament of the Suffren-class submarine includes with four 533mm torpedo tubes and and 20 storage racks for various weapons including F21 Artemis heavy torpedoes, Exocet SM.39 Block 2 anti-ship missiles with a range of 50 km, SCALP naval cruise missiles with a range of over 1 000 km, and FG29 mines. Two mines can be carried per weapon rack.