French Navy took delivery of three additional self-propelled multi-mission barges (chalands multi-missions, CMM), the Armed Forces Ministry announced.
The three vessels – Fourmi, Scarabée and Araignée – were received by French defense procurement agency, General Directorate of Armament (DGA) on December 10, 2019. These vessels are the fourth, fifth and sixth of the eight multi-mission barges ordered from iXblue H2X (La Ciotat) and Cegelec Defense et Naval Sud-Est (Toulon).
The hybrid propulsion ships will operate at the naval bases of Brest (Fourmi and Scarabée) and Cherbourg (Araignée).
The CMMs are intended to carry out underwater work missions, training divers, transporting equipment and even pollution control. The first three ships were delivered to the diving school of Saint-Mandrier (la Cigale) and to the naval base of Toulon (Les 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 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 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.
The vessels have a length of 24 meters, a width of 8 meters and a displacement of 53 tonnes. They can take on board up to 36 sailors or 12 tonnes of cargo and have a crane allowing them to handle a load of one ton from their working deck. This capability did not exist on the vessels 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 CMMs Scarabée and Araignée are specially equipped with a net hauler/trap hauler to take samples. They will thus be able to conduct radiological monitoring of the areas around Brest and Cherbourg, replacing the current vessels which will soon be decommissioned.
The last two CMMs in the series, the Luciole and Tianée, ordered in June 2018, are expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2020 and will be assigned respectively to the naval base of Fort-de-France and to the Human Diving and Intervention Underwater Unit (CEPHISMER) in Toulon.