Two years after the delivery of the Suffren, the first Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine, a new milestone has been reached in the production of these SSNs, with the first sea trials of the Duguay-Trouin, on March 27th, 2023. The submarine will now go through different trials to test its performances before its delivery, scheduled later this year.
The Duguay-Trouin is the second submarine of the Barracuda program, led by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) in partnership with the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA) for the nuclear boilers part. This program intends to replace the Ruby-class SSNs currently in service within the French Navy. Naval Group is in charge of the production of these submarines, from their design to their construction, as well as the manufacture of the main components of the nuclear boilers which are developed and produced with TechnicAtome. Naval Group is also in charge of providing logistical support and maintaining the submarines in Toulon.
This series of sea trials follows the divergence of the nuclear reactor which took place in September 2020 and the dock tests carried out since the launch of the submarine in 2021. The operations successively took place in the assembly hall as well as in the dry and water-filled docks to test equipment and systems. These trials were conducted by joint teams from Naval Group, TechnicAtome and French authorities.
The Barracuda series is well underway: the remaining four submarines in the program (Tourville, de Grasse, Rubis and Casabianca) are all currently under construction, at different stages of completion, and their deliveries will be staggered until 2030. With a lifespan of more than 30 years, the Barracuda program commits submarine forces until at least 2060, making it one of the major weapons systems of this century.
Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group said: “The Barracuda series is at the heart of our industrial strategy for submarines. It mobilizes our skills, our know-how, our technological lead, and our ability to constantly evolve and innovate. I would like to highlight the unfailing commitment of the design and production teams at Naval Group and its partners, including TechnicAtome, as well as those at DGA, CEA and the French Navy. The achievement of this new milestone is a demonstration of the expertise of the French naval industry. This success guarantees an unrivaled defense tool with a high level of industrial autonomy, to support France’s sovereignty.”
A local and national industrial performance
The production of these submarines gathers a multitude of exceptional skills and expertise, including in the most advanced technological fields. The Barracuda program calls on the skills of all Naval Group sites, as well as on the industrial sites of TechnicAtome and numerous partner companies.
This program is the result of the collective work of hundreds of partners in the French defense industrial and technological base, who have been working with Naval Group for decades:
- many years were necessary to study the feasibility of the project and lead to the definition of a submarine that meets the operational need of this particularly ambitious project on the technological and military levels ;
- since the launch of the project, nearly 10,000 people from the program management and industrial subcontracting chain have worked for the Barracuda program ;
- a total of 2,500 men and women (including about 800 from Naval Group subcontractors) are currently working on the Barracuda series ;
- since 2015, between 400 and 600 people have been working full-time on the production of the Duguay-Trouin ;
- this represents a total of 13 years of work or 7.5 million hours.
Barracuda : French excellence
The Barracuda is the submarine of the 21st century, designed to meet the operational needs of the current and future navy. It features extensive operational capabilities and the latest technologies. More versatile, higher performing and better armed than its predecessors, the Suffren type SSN will go faster and further. It is designed to control all types of marine spaces, from the high seas to coastal areas.
This submarine is equipped with a nuclear propulsion system which offers a remarkable action range and discretion. It also features communication means allowing its integration within a naval force.
The Suffren type SSN is one of the world’s stealthiest submarines. This discretion, combined with her advanced detection capabilities, guarantees her acoustic superiority. More discreet, with increased autonomy and better capacities, these submarines are also more manoeuvrable and mobile thanks to their latest generation navigation and communication systems, including a centralised and more automated driving. Another major innovation is the optronic mast, which replaces the telescopic mast, ensuring better visual information collection and sharing among the crew. This new feature, combined with advanced detection capabilities, guarantees the superiority of these SSNs in their intelligence missions.
The Barracuda-class submarines will also provide the French Navy with a deep strike capability thanks to MBDA’s naval cruise missiles (NCM). They are also equipped with the F21 heavyweight torpedo produced by Naval Group and the SM39 anti-ship missile from MBDA. These SSNs also allow 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.
Technical characteristics of the Barracuda SSNs
- surface displacement: 4,700 tonnes ;
- diving displacement: 5,200 tonnes ;
- length: 99 metres ;
- diameter: 8.8 metres ;
- armament: naval cruise missiles, F21 heavy-weight wire-guided torpedoes, modernised Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles ;
- hybrid propulsion: pressurised water reactor derived from the reactors on board the Triomphant-type SSBN and Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, two propulsion turbines, two turbo generators and two electric motors ;
- crew: 65 crew members + commandos ;
- availability: > 270 days per year.