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French Defense Minister Florence Parly informed the public about the first test and diving trips of the new nuclear hunting submarine "Suffren" on Twitter. "First dive trip ... My thanks go to all passionate and committed employees, whose motivation and initiative made this essential step possible," she tweeted on April 29th.

The test campaign for the first submarine from the Barracuda program started the day before. This is a slight delay compared to the earlier point in the first quarter. The aim of the following tests is to give the French Armaments Directorate (Direction générale de l'armement - DGA) and the French Navy the opportunity to test the performance of the submarine at sea and to gain experience. The sea trial will take several months and will be carried out in the sea area around Cherbourg, later in the Atlantic, from summer in the Mediterranean. The delivery should take place this year.


Technology and capacity leap

Thanks to its armament with cruise missiles (MdCN - Missile de Croisière Naval from MBDA (Matra BAe Dynamics Aérospatiale), whose range is specified as more than 1,000 km, the submarine has the ability to enable long-range weapon effects ) F21 torpedoes (from Naval Group) and Exocet SM39 Block 2 ship missiles (also from MBDA) complete the armament, and the "Suffren" class is able to lay mines and launch drones (UUV) while submerged With a modular mission-specific 'Dry Deck Shelter', which is accessible from an airlock, special units (up to 12 men can be accommodated in addition to the crew) and their equipment (e.g. the 'Swimmer Delivery Vehicle' PSM3G (propulseur sous-marin de troisième génération) from ECA) in addition to the control unit arranged as a St. Andrew's cross, the boat also waits for you optronic mast (daylight, infrared and light amplifying cameras) as another special feature. The traditional optical periscope has had its day on “Suffren”.

"Suffren", launched on August 1, 2019, is the first boat in the Barracuda range with which the French Navy is replacing its (six) aging Rubis-class submarines (built from 1976) becomes. Three more Barracuda boats ("Duguay-Trouin", "Tourville", "de Grasse") are to be delivered by 2025, and two more will complete the family by 2029/2030 ("Casabianca" and "Rubis").

The Barracuda program includes investments of 9.1 billion euros. The lifespan of the boats is said to be more than 35 years.

Neues französisches Atom-Jagd-U-Boot in Seeerprobung
Neues französisches Atom-Jagd-U-Boot in Seeerprobung

The "Suffren" is the 108th submarine built in Cherbourg since 1899th

The test drive will take place under restrictions due to the COVID 19 crisis. Naval Group stressed that the personnel on board for test drives were subjected to a two-week quarantine and intensive medical surveillance and were tested for COVID-19. Only the minimum required to carry out the test is on board (20 percent). In addition to strict hygiene and disinfection rules, wearing a mask at all times is mandatory.

Hans Uwe Mergener


Technical data of the "Suffren"

Displacement: 4,700 tons, submerged: 5,200 tons
Length: 99 meters
Diameter: 8.8 meters
Depth: Naval Group: more than 300 meters, French Ministry of Defense: more than 350 meters
Torpedo tubes: Four torpedo tubes 533 mm
Drive: Hybrid drive: pressurized water reactor (150 MW), two drive turbines, two turbogenerators and two electric motors, water jet drive (Pumpjet)
Speed: submerged over 23 knots (Source: French Ministry of Defense)
Crew: 65 crew members + special forces (12). Mixed crew (for the first time for French SNA). Two crews per boat.
Autonomy: Naval Group indicates 70 days
Availability: > 270 days a year