Sea trials begin for France’s second next-gen, nuke-powered submarine
France’s newest nuclear-powered attack submarine has entered its final testing phase before a planned delivery to the armed forces later this year.
The SSN Duguay-Trouin, part of the Barracuda-class of next-generation, nuclear-powered subs, began its sea trials on March 27-28 at the Cherbourg naval base in Normandy, France, according to the French Ministry of Defense and sub manufacturer Naval Group. Once several months of trials have passed, it should be delivered to the French Navy in summer 2023.
After an initial test leg in the English Channel and a return to Cherbourg, the Duguay-Trouin will undergo multiple tests in the Atlantic Ocean as well as in the Mediterranean Ocean, the ministry said in a March 28 press release. During the sea trials, the submarine will remain the property of Naval Group and TechnicAtome, the manufacturer of the nuclear reactor, while operating under the command of the French Navy.
The first Barracuda-class submarine, SSN Suffren, was delivered in 2021, and entered service last June. The program, launched in 2006 to replace the 1980s-era Rubis-class SSNs currently in service, is run jointly by the French military procurement agency Direction Generale de l’Armement (DGA) as well as the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA), which oversees the nuclear boilers segment.
Four submarines in the Barracuda class are now in various stages of development, per Naval Group. The Tourville, de Grasse, Rubis, and Casabianca are all scheduled to be delivered by 2030, and the class is set to serve the Navy into the 2060s. This class of submarine is intended to be stealthier than its predecessors, and capable of firing cruise missiles at faraway targets.
Among its capabilities, the Barracuda-class submarines will provide the French Navy with a deep strike capability via MBDA naval cruise missiles (NCM). They are also equipped with Naval Group’s F21 heavyweight torpedo and MBDA’s Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile. They were designed to allow the “discreet deployment” of special forces divers underwater, per Naval Group, with a “divers hatch” and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter, allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles.