The nuclear attack submarine (ANS) Pearl burnt down in June will finally be repaired in Cherbourg, the site will last six months: this is the decision announced Thursday, October 22 by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, on Twitter. “We can fix the Pearl, and we’ll fix it. I say in the first place “we can” because the road ahead is long and arduous. “” Naval Group will replace the bow of the damaged submarine with that of the SNA Sapphire who left active service in 2019 ”, for its part, clarified the French military shipbuilder.
The SNA Pearl was badly set on fire on June 13. In service since 1993, it was at the shipyard in Toulon for a complete renovation that was to extend its operational life in the strategic oceanic force until at least 2030. The SNA, whose nuclear reactor dedicated to propulsion had fortunately been dismantled before, was subjected for fourteen hours to an intense blaze, “Of incredible violence”, in the words of the minister herself.
Three simultaneous outbreaks had been treated, notably around the ventilation unit, at a hull opening panel located forward. This one suffered “Punctually” a temperature of “600 ° C”, specified the ministry. Some 150 firefighters and sailors battled foot to foot in a hell of flames, while the hull was cooled by foam, a technique that could also weaken the structure of the ship.
Immediately after the fire, the specialists consulted by The world believed that the ANS Pearl might have sustained too much damage to her thick hull to sail again as planned by 2022. Submariners spoke of their “Mourning”, feeling “Orphans” of the ship. “We are not going to take the risk of diving back to 300 meters with a boat that has suffered this. Who would like to get into this? “, confided a soldier, while the navy confirmed that this loss meant “A major hole in [ses] capacities “.
A cost of 70 million euros
France is indeed implementing a fleet of six nuclear attack submarines (ANS), the manpower needed to permanently sail three under the sea. Today, due to maintenance and the fire, she has only two ships of the class Ruby, launched between 1983 and 1993. This limits their use to two priority missions: support for nuclear deterrence, with the protection of submarines launching missiles when they come and go on patrol from Brest; and the escort of the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, currently in the Mediterranean. Difficult arbitrations fall on the chief of staff of the navy, Pierre Vandier, for the continuation of the other missions: intelligence, surveillance of the opposing navies, projection of special forces. However, the renewed confrontation between powers at sea leads to a strong use of ANS: they had reached a cumulative record of a thousand days at sea in 2016.
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