FREMM is the Foundation for Further Development
On 1 February MONS was present at the launch of the NORMANDIE at the Naval Group facilities in Lorient, Brittany. NORMANDIE is the sixth FREMM-class frigate built by Naval Group for the French Navy: the company has also delivered two similar frigates to international operators, one each to the Egyptian Navy and Royal Moroccan Navy.
“The FREMM design is sea-proven – the first of class, ACQUITAINE, was delivered to the French Navy in 2012 – and is the ideal foundation on which to build further,” the site director for Naval Group at Lorient, Laurent Moser, told MONS immediately prior to the launch. The reference is to the new BELH@RRA class so-called ‘light frigate,’ a 4,000t fully digital warship design that Hervé Boy, the man responsible for marketing Naval Group’s frigate product line, told MONS is “generating very considerable interest in a significant number of navies.” Currently in the design phase, a contract was awarded in April 2017 for five BELH@RRAs to be delivered to the French Navy. “Construction will begin in November 2019 and the first of class is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. Thereafter we will deliver one ship every 18 months,” Moser confirmed to MONS.
The FREMM-class forms the basis for a bid that Naval Group made to the government of Canada late last year for that nation’s future warship programme, dubbed Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC). That bid was rejected by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the government’s central procurement agency, which described the bid as an “unsolicited proposal.” However, Naval Group’s bid was based on providing an alternative to the tortuous, heavily criticised and much delayed bid process that has characterised the CSC programme for a decade or more. The company – with co-builder of the FREMM class Fincantieri – offered to build a FREMM-based CSC, in Canada, at the government’s chosen shipyard, at a fixed price. This, PSPC said, would “put at risk the Government’s ability to properly equip the Royal Canadian Navy and would establish a harmful precedent for future competitive procurements.” MONS will be reporting in greater depth on this competition and its likely outcome in the near uture.
The launch of a warship as large as NORMANDIE – the hull as it emerged from the construction dock weighed in at some 4,500t, a figure that will rise to 6,000t as it completes fitting out – is an impressive occasion. Naval Group managed the event with panache as well as a degree of solemnity that reflects its long history of construction in Brittany. The vessel will now enter a period of fitting out that will begin with the installation of the vessel’s single conical mast in the immediate future, followed by sea trials that are due to start this autumn. Delivery to the customer is currently scheduled for summer 2019, Moser told MONS.