French Navy Rubis-class nuclear attack submarine (SSN) Perle (S606) was transferred into the Cachin dock, at the heart of the Naval Group site in Cherbourg, on Jan. 6.
Assisted by French navy tug boats, Perle was floated into the Cachin launching facility, where repair work will be carried out, and was set down on its keel blocks. The submarine arrived at the site of Cherbourg late December on-board a semi-submersible ship.
Since the fire that damaged the Perle in June, experts from Naval Group, the Fleet Support Service of the French Navy and the Directorate General of Armament have worked to provide a precise analysis of the extent of the damage and the possibilities for redress. On Oct. 22 last year, the Ministry of Armed Forces released a statement on the decision to repair the submarine and Naval Group teams from Cherbourg and Toulon have been preparing for the start of this extraordinary task.
The repair work will consist of joining the aft end of SSN Perle with the fore end of Perle’s sister ship SSN Saphir, which was taken out of active service in July 2019 and now located in Cherbourg for dismantling work. The repair work will therefore entail a series of cutting, welding and joining operations.
The activities for the project officially started in November when a team of around 100 employees from Toulon have come up to the Cotentin Peninsula and are working with the teams in Cherbourg to prepare the upcoming cutting work on the Saphir. The teams will now carry out the same repair operations on the Perle. The Engineering Department teams have also been working since last autumn to provide support for all these operations.
Once the cutting work is complete on the Perle and the Saphir in the first quarter, the team will then move on to the joining work. Perle will come out of the launch facility in June. The decks and internal bulkhead will then be reconstituted, and the numerous connections (around 80 cables, some 20 pipes, etc.) will be also be joined.
After the repair work, Perle is expected to return to Toulon at the end of 2021 in order to continue its technical stop, which includes the upgrade of its combat system. The ship’s handover to the French Navy is planned for early 2023.
Carrying out this type of repair work that involves joining the fore and aft ends of two ships is a first in the history of Naval Group. However, Naval Group has already carried out “jumboisation” operations on the Agosta and Chilean U209 submarines.
The shipbuilder has also previously completed joining operations for submarine parts that were produced in different shipyards throughout the world, as was the case with the Royal Malaysian Navy Scorpène program, where several parts were built on the Spanish Navantia shipyard, or the Brazillian Navy Scorpène program, where the fore end of the first submarine of the class Riachuelo was manufactured in Cherbourg and then transferred to the Brazilian ICN shipyard to be joined to the aft end.
French submarine Perle (S606)
Perle is the sixth and last of the Rubis-class of first-generation nuclear attack submarine (SSN) of the French Navy. The Rubis-class boats are the most compact nuclear attack submarines to date.
Construction of the boat began on March 27, 1987. She was launched on September 22, 1990, and entered active duty service on July 7, 1993.