France has one of the best nuclear submarines in the world

The newly commissioned Suffren-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) Duguay-Trouin (S636) has been officially declared on “active service” within the French Marine Nationale fleet.

This event occurred at the beginning of this month, marking a significant milestone in the Barracuda program under which this advanced submarine was developed. The rigorous at-sea acceptance tests preceding this addition were carried out over a year ago.

Admiral Nicolas Vaujour, Chief of the French Navy’s General Staff, proclaimed the second Suffren-class submarine via a social media platform. Faster, longer lasting, more versatile, more discreet. In our crews’ hands, she will become an exceptional fighter for future operations.”

The Duguay-Trouin’s construction process began with the laying of its keel in June 2009, but it experienced delays attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2022, the submarine emerged from the underwater construction facility of the Cherbourg Naval Group shipyard, and in July 2023, it was officially handed over to the French Navy after completing its first tests at sea.

Shephard Media reports that these tests were coordinated by the General Directorate of Weapons (DGA), in alliance with the French Commission for Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy and in direct collaboration with the French Navy, the Naval Group and TechnicAtome.

These tests included a static dive to evaluate the stability of the submarine, along with surface and submersion tests to ensure the operability and safety of its facilities, including the nuclear boiler room. In addition, tests were carried out to verify the effectiveness of the submarine’s combat system, its ability to deploy weapons and its communications functionality.

Validation phase under extreme conditions for the Duguay-Trouin SSN

France has one of the best nuclear submarines in the world

In March, the SSN Duguay-Trouin successfully completed the Military Characteristics Verification phase, comparable to the US Navy’s test cruises. This crucial stage allowed the crew to comprehensively evaluate the performance and endurance of the submarine, in addition to verifying the adequacy of the equipment to the required technical specifications.

In the course of these evaluations, carried out last month, the Duguay-Trouin operated in both cold and warm waters, calling at Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique. This port of call marked a first for a Suffren-class submarine, highlighting her ability to operate in a variety of ocean environments.

S636 is notable not only for being the eleventh ship of the French Navy in its class, but also for being the first to bear the name of the famous French privateer and admiral René Duguay-Trouin, active during the War of the Spanish Succession in the 19th century. XVIII.

Deployment of advanced technology on Suffren class submarines

The Suffren-class submarines, intended to replace the previous Rubis and Amethyst-class submarines, are intended to form the backbone of the French submarine fleet until approximately 2060. Plans to deliver the remaining four submarines are scheduled for the next decade, ensuring the continuity and evolution of France’s submarine attack capability.

These submarines, with a surface displacement of 4,600 tons and a submerged displacement of 5,200 tons, reach depths of up to 300 meters and are suitable for a wide range of missions, including anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), land attacks, intelligence, crisis management and special operations.

One of the most notable innovations is the inclusion of an optronic mast, a modernization of the traditional telescopic mast. The Naval Group implemented this enhancement, which facilitates superior visual information collection and distribution, which is crucial to the effectiveness of intelligence missions.

The integration of technology derived from the T-class Triomphant, especially regarding propulsion, further strengthens the capabilities of the Suffren class. For the first time, these submarines can launch deep strikes using MBDA naval cruise missiles, capable of hitting land targets hundreds of kilometers away. They are equipped with F21 heavy torpedoes and modernized Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles, cementing their role as superior combat forces in the underwater theater.

Additionally, each unit of this class is designed to accommodate a crew of sixty sailors, including twelve officers and forty-eight non-commissioned officers, with additional capacity for up to fifteen Marine commandos or other Special Forces operators.

They have also been adapted to incorporate a removable dry deck shelter that allows the innovative PSM3G underwater vehicle to deliver swimmers, thus enhancing its versatility in specialized insertion and extraction operations.