First Barracuda-Class SSN Suffren Starts Sea Trials

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The sea trials of the Suffren, the first Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine built by Naval Group, have begun. This will enable the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy to test the performances of the submarine at sea before her delivery later this year. A total of six Barracuda-class vessels will be added to the French Navy’s fleet by 2030.

“The first sea trial of the Suffren is a source of great pride for Naval Group employees and their partners. I am extremely grateful for the efforts of our teams. They made it possible to start these trials while respecting strict compliance with the health and safety measures to protect the crew which is partly constituted of Naval Group members. These trials are additional proof of Naval Group’s total commitment to the French Navy, the French defence procurement agency (DGA) as well as to the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome and the other industrial actors of the defence sector. Together, we are conducting the sea trials that will lead to the delivery of the Suffren and committed to the production of the other five submarines of the series, which is a major priority for the company,” said Naval Group’s Chairman and CEO, Pierre Eric Pommellet.

The SSN Suffren sea trials are a priority for the Ministry of Defence, according to a Naval Group statement. The shipyard deployed a series of measures for the protection of the health and safety of the employees in order to continue the operations during the COVID-19 health crisis. Since March 16 a series of security measures has been implemented – particularly for nuclear security – as part of Naval Group’s industrial continuity plan for the Cherbourg site and the Barracuda programme. Steps were also taken in conjunction with occupational healthcare authorities to ensure health and safety of the team. Protocols include, for example, systematic compliance with hygiene and disinfection rules and the mandatory use of masks. In addition, preventive self-isolation measures and screening tests have been carried out on all industrial, military and state members of the team taking part in the sea trials. Finally, the sea trials protocols were adapted, by reducing by 20% the number of people onboard.

The Suffren is one of the world’s stealthiest submarines, says Naval Group which has expertise in “quiet” submarine designs. This discretion, combined with her advanced detection capabilities, guarantees her acoustic superiority. For the first time, thanks to the Suffren-class submarines, the French Navy will have a deep strike capability with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles. The latest generation of SSNs also allows the discreet deployment of Special Forces underwater, in particular thanks to its “divers hatch” and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles. More discreet, with increased autonomy and better capacities, manoeuvrable and mobile, the Suffren has the latest generation of systems, including a centralised and more automated driving.