The Suffren, the first nuclear attack submarine (Sous-marin Nucléaire d’Attaque, or SNA) of the Barracuda program, was inaugurated on July 12, 2019 in Cherbourg, during a ceremony attended by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces.
With the arrival of SNA Suffren on its launching dock, the inaugural ceremony marks a key milestone in the Barracuda program: construction is complete and the qualification test phase begins. Led by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the program’s overall project owner, this is the necessary preliminary step before the final delivery of the ship. Suffren will arrive in Toulon, its home port, before the summer of 2020. Launched in 1998 with construction beginning in 2006, the Barracuda program will modernize France’s SNA fleet.
But it is not just the replacement of the Rubis-class SNAs put into service in the 1980s; Suffren-class SNAs will allow the French Navy to move upmarket in terms of capabilities.
To the SNA’s traditional missions (supporting deterrence, stealthy collection of intelligence, escort of high-value surface ships, etc.), the Barracuda program adds two new capabilities: accurate deep strike with the Naval Cruise Missile; and deployment of combat swimmers via a removable bridge shed. In addition, Suffren-class SNAs will be able to navigate farther, faster, longer and more discreetly.
As global underwater activity grows, the renewal of the SNA fleet allows France to control maritime areas and thus guarantees the possibility of ensuring deterrence via our nuclear submarines launchers (SNLE). The Barracuda team is made up of some fifty technical experts, architects and managers from the DGA, experts from the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) and operational managers from the Navy. More than 100 subcontractors and SMEs are involved in this program, in France and in Europe. In total, several thousand people participate.
A crew of 65 submariners (men or women) will crew Suffren. To adapt them to the new technologies of this warship, they have already been training for three years on simulators. The Suffren’s fitting-out crew, commanded by Commander Axel Roche, was officially mustered on 11 July.
The inaugural ceremony was also the occasion to announce the order of the sixth boat of the Barracuda program, to be known as Casabianca, from Naval Group and TechnicAtome. In accordance with the commitments of the Military Planning Law (LPM) 2019-2025, all six Barracuda-program boats have now been ordered.
The first four will be delivered by 2025. With Suffren, Duguay Trouin, Tourville, De Grasse, Rubis and Casabianca currently in different phases of construction, the French Navy will be able to gradually retire and decommission its first generation of nuclear-powered attack submarines.