CHERBOURG: President Emmanuel Macron on Friday launched the first of a new fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines that aims to ensure French naval superiority in the coming decades.
The first French submarine to be launched in a decade, the Suffren is the frontrunner for a new line of Barracuda attack-class vessels, 12 of which have already been ordered by Australia.
A vast, 99-metre (325 foot) behemoth of black steel, the Suffren was launched at a dry-dock ceremony in the northern port of Cherbourg.
Built by French shipbuilder Naval Group for the French navy, the Suffren is a Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine designed to replace the Rubis-class submarines which have been in service since the 1980s.
The vast billion-euro stealth vessel, whose sides were draped with the French flag, dwarfed a 700-strong crowd of international delegates who looked on as Macron officially launched the Suffren by simply pulling down a lever.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly was there alongside her Australian counterpart Linda Reynolds, whose country inked a deal in February to buy 12 conventionally-powered attack-class submarines from Naval Group.
“With the Suffren, a hunter is born today, not a vessel which is going to hide in the depths of the ocean,” Admiral Christophe Prazuck, the French navy’s chief of staff, told reporters.
“This is a vessel which has been fashioned to fight... to face down enemies,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2019