Naval Group Launches French Navy’s First Barracuda-Class Nuclear Attack Submarine, Suffren

Naval Group has launched the French Navy’s first Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine, named Suffren, during a ceremony at its facility in Cherbourg, France on July 12.

The launching ceremony was attended by Emmanuel Macron, the French President, and Florence Parly, the Minister of the Armed Forces.

Construction of Suffren began in 2007 and the submarine is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2020.

Barracuda class (also called Suffren class after the lead ship of the class) is a class of nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs; French: Sous-marins nucléaires d’attaque, SNA) being developed for the French Navy.

Naval Group is the overall prime contractor of the submarine program and TechnicAtome is the prime contractor for the nuclear reactor. The French Defence Procurement Agency ( Direction générale de l’armement, DGA) is in charge of the overall program, with the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, CEA) for the nuclear reactor.

Barracuda SSNs will use technologies from the French Navy’s currently operational Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), including pump-jet propulsion.

The submarines will have a length of 99 meters, diameter of 8.8 meters, a surfaced displacement of 4,700 tonnes and underwater displacement of 5,300 tonnes.

The boats will be powered by a 50MW K15 pressurized water reactor derived from the reactors on board the Triomphant-class SSBNs and Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier. They will have two propulsion turbines, two turbo generators and two electric motors driving a single ducted propeller (pump-jet).

The SSNs will have a maximum speed of about 25 knots and a maximum diving depth of more than 350 m.

The Barracuda-class submarines will be armed with torpedo-tube-launched cruise missile, MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval, Naval Cruise Missile). MdCN is the sea-launched variant of the SCALP EG low-observable air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) developed by MBDA Missile Systems. The missile has an operational range of over 1,000 km (620 mi) and can be fired against strategic land targets.

The submarines will be also armed with F21 Artemis heavyweight torpedoes, Exocet SM39 Block2 anti-ship missiles and FG29 mines.

Barracudas will have a crew complement of 65. In support of special operations missions, they may also accommodate up to 12 commandos, while carrying their equipment in a dry deck shelter attached aft of the sail. The dry deck shelter will also allow deployment of underwater vehicles.

The primary missions of the Barracuda-class vessels will include anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare (ASuW, ASW), land attack, intelligence gathering, crisis management and special operations missions.

The French Navy plans to have six SNA Barracuda in service by 2030 and the first four is scheduled to be delivered over the period of 2020-2025. The new submarines are intended to replace the older Rubis-class nuclear attack submarines.

Progress on French Navy Barracuda-class SSN program. Illustration by Naval Group.
Progress on French Navy Barracuda-class SSN program. Illustration by Naval Group.



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