DCNS’s Cherbourg centre has completed the first pressure hull ring for the third Barracuda-type nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) almost one month ahead of schedule. This is an important milestone for a particularly ambitious DCNS-led programme.
The first ring of Barracuda No. 3 SSN Tourville was completed less than two years after that of Barracuda No. 2, SSN Duguay-Trouin.
The Barracuda construction programme is organised like a volume production programme with clearly defined cost, delivery date and performance targets. Three Barracuda submarines are currently under construction on a programme that is being carefully optimised and scheduled to make the best use of critical resources.
The first of the 21 steel rings making up the pressure hull of a Barracuda submarine is actually ring No. 7. It is about 9 metres in diameter, over 3 metres long and forms part of the aft third of the submarine. Ring No. 7 will house the submarine’s powerplant.
The Barracuda programme will make a vital contribution to the renewal of France’s naval forces and represents a significant proportion of the group’s production workload, with DCNS teams and facilities expected to work on the programme until 2027.
In December 2006, French defence procurement agency DGA awarded the overall Barracuda contract to DCNS, appointing the group as programme prime contractor and Areva-TA as nuclear powerplant prime contractor. The firm order placed at the same time calls for the development and construction of first-of-class SSN Suffren, the first of six Barracuda-type SSNs. The contract also covers through-life support for all six submarines during their first years of operational service.
The second and third tranches, confirmed in 2009 and 2011 respectively, cover the construction of the second and third of type SSN Duguay-Trouin and SSN Tourville.
Between 2017 and 2027, Barracuda-type SSNs will replace the Navy’s current-generation Rubis/Améthyste-class boats. Barracuda mission capabilities will include intelligence gathering and special operations (by commandos and special forces), anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, land strikes and participation in joint operations wherever the type’s interoperability and associated capabilities (discreet communications, tactical datalinks, etc.) are required. The weapons payload will include next-generation F21 heavyweight torpedoes, SM39 anti-ship missiles and MdCN naval cruise missiles.