In a remarkable endeavor reminiscent of a mad scientist’s experiment, Naval Group has successfully delivered a peculiar submarine, dubbed the “Frankensub,” to the French Navy. This unconventional creation involved merging the rear half of one nuclear attack submarine with the front half of another.
To undertake this complex task, the Fleet Support Service entrusted Naval Group with the responsibility of relocating the damaged SNA Perle to Cherbourg. Their mission involved continuing the refueling, repair, and modernization efforts on the undamaged aft section of the submarine, along with removing copious amounts of firefighting foam. Additionally, Naval Group obtained a decommissioned Rubis-class submarine, SNA Saphir, and proceeded to sever its aft section.
The subsequent challenge was the intricate process of fitting the front section of Saphir to the rear section of Perle. Although it may sound straightforward in writing, the reality was an engineering nightmare. Despite both submarines belonging to the same class and design, each vessel is a unique creation, with engineers and shipyard experts resolving innumerable problems on the fly to ensure proper functionality.
Joining the two sections was akin to performing an organ transplant, where the patient not only had to recover but also endure the immense pressure of thousands of feet of seawater. This necessitated the utilization of highly advanced cutting and welding techniques, as well as the meticulous alignment of the two hulls. Even the slightest deviation could potentially lead to disastrous consequences.
Subsequently, the reconstruction of interior decks became a captivating endeavor. Moreover, the connection of hundreds of pipes, cables, wires, and various systems posed its own set of challenges. Naval Group disclosed that this intricate process required the involvement of 300 individuals, 100,000 engineering hours, 2,000 updated plans and design documents, 250,000 industrial hours, 2,000 electrical connections, and an astonishing one million hours of maintenance and repairs.
Following the completion of rigorous sea trials, SNA Perle is anticipated to remain in active service until 2028.
This remarkable feat of engineering showcases the ingenuity and expertise of Naval Group and serves as a testament to their unwavering commitment to restoring and maintaining the capabilities of the French Navy’s submarine fleet.
Source: Naval Group