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French nuclear attack submarine Perle to be repaired in Cherbourg

The Perle nuclear attack submarine (SSN) left the Toulon naval base on Thursday, December 10, 2020 to be transported to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, aboard the specialized semi-submersible charter vessel Roll Dock Storm. This large-scale operation is the first step in the repair process for the SSN Perle, after the fire suffered on June 12, in a dry dock in Toulon, when she was periodically unavailable for maintenance and repair.


The Perle nuclear attack submarine (SSN) left the Toulon naval base on Thursday, December 10, 2020 to be transported to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, aboard the specialized semi-submersible charter vessel Roll Dock Storm. This large-scale operation is the first step in the repair process for the SSN Perle, after the fire suffered on June 12, in a dry dock in Toulon, when she was periodically unavailable for maintenance and repair.
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SSN Perle at the door to be transported by Rolldock Storm, in Toulon, towards Cherbourg (Picture source: French Navy)


Organized in coordination by the French Navy and the Fleet Support Service on the one hand, and the industrial Naval Group on the other hand, the transfer and repair of the Perle SSN will make it possible to maintain the operational capacity of the Strategic Oceanic Force (FOST, Force Océanique Stratégique) at its best.

This transfer follows the decision taken on October 22, 2020 by Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, to repair the SSN Perle. The front part of the submarine having been damaged by the fire, the solution adopted will consist in replacing it with that of the SSN Saphir, withdrawn from active service in the summer of 2019. This repair will make it possible to maintain the current format of the nuclear attack submarine fleet.

The transfer of the SSN Perle from Toulon to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin is necessary because only the latter's infrastructures allow this extensive work to be carried out. "The embarkation of the SSN Perle aboard the Storm and its departure for Cherbourg symbolically mark the beginning of the reconquest of the Pearl. After repair, the submarine will have regained its technical potential and will be fully operational until the scheduled date of its withdrawal from active service, the Ruby-class SSN being gradually replaced by the Suffren-class SSN, while maintaining the format of the six-submarine SSN fleet ”explains General Engineer Guillaume de Garidel, central director of the fleet support service.

The cutting, hull welding and connection work will be carried out in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. They will be followed by a return to Toulon where the submarine will resume the periodical unavailability for maintenance and repair (IPER, Indisponibilité périodique pour entretien et réparation) interrupted in June. This repair, although exceptional, is a controlled industrial operation. Operations of this kind have in fact already been carried out on submarine hulls, in France and abroad. It will be carried out in accordance with all the conditions necessary for the safety and operational capacity of the submarine.