French navy receives three new Multi-Mission Barges with hybrid propulsion

Florence Parly, French Minister of Defense, welcomes the reception by the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) of three additional Multi-mission Barges (CMM, Chalands Multi-Missions), hybrid propulsion ships which will operate for the benefit of the naval bases of Brest and Cherbourg.

French navy receives three new Multi Mission Barges with hybrid propulsion 2 Multi-Mission Barges "Fourmi", "Scarabée" and "Araignée" (Picture source: DGA)

On December 10, 2019, the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) received the CMMs Fourmi (Ant), Scarabée (Scarab) and Araignée (Spider), respectively n ° 4, 5 and 6 from the series of eight Multi-Mission Barges with hybrid propulsion, notified on December 16, 2015 to the two companies iXblue H2X (established in La Ciotat) and CEGELEC Défense and Naval Sud-Est (established in Toulon). On the same date, they were taken into account by the French Navy in their respective homeports: Brest for the Fourmi and Scarabée, Cherbourg for the Spider.

CMMs are used to modernize and rationalize the resources of the French Navy devoted to port service, by standardizing the fleet and reducing operating costs. The CMM program is an emblematic example of innovative and environment-friendly equipment promoted by the Military Programming Law (LPM) 2019-2025. The CMMs are intended to carry out underwater work missions, training divers, transporting equipment or even pollution control to replace the port easements used so far. The first three ships were delivered to the Saint-Mandrier diving school (Cigale) and to the Toulon naval base (Criquet and Grillon).

The CMM program responds to the need expressed by the French Navy to renew and rationalize its port facilities with new, powerful and modern ships. The integrated program team, grouping together the DGA and the French Navy, has adopted the principle of a hybrid propulsion which offers a dual-use profile: a classic mode allowing a speed of 10 knots with diesel generator sets, and a low-speed operating mode in zero-emission mode thanks to rechargeable batteries at the quay or at sea. This second mode particularly increases the comfort of sailors by reducing odor and noise pollution. It is operated between 65 and 80% of the time of use of the barge.

With a length of 24 meters and a width of 8 meters for 53 tonnes of movement, the CMMs can take on board up to 36 sailors or 12 tonnes of cargo; they have lifting and lifting capacity allowing them to handle a tonne load from their working deck. This ability did not exist on the port facilities currently in service with the French Navy. The addition of an azimuth bow thruster and remote controls also significantly improve the ergonomics and maneuverability of CMMs.

The CMM Scarabée and Araignée are specially equipped with a net hauler/trap hauler to take samples. They will thus be able to provide radiological monitoring of the areas around Brest and Cherbourg, replacing the current Coralline and Palangrin which will soon be decommissioned.

The last two CMMs in the series, the Luciole and Tianée, ordered in June 2018, are expected in the second quarter of 2020 and will be assigned respectively to the Fort-de-France naval base and to the Human Diving and Underwater Intervention Unit. (CEPHISMER, Cellule plongée humaine et intervention sous la mer) in Toulon.