Barges featuring hybrid propulsion system to be maintained for French Navy

The Direction Générale de l’Armement (the French Defence Procurement Agency, DGA) has commissioned 8 multi-mission barges for the French Navy. Designed for use in harbours and coastal waters, the ships will carry out various operational missions including underwater work, equipment transportation, pollution control and diver training.

cmm_texteCegelec Défense et Naval Sud-Est, a VINCI Energies company, has been awarded an in-service support contract for 8 French Navy multi-mission barges. The ships are distinctive in that they feature a hybrid propulsion system.

What is in-service support?

Providing in-service support for equipment means guaranteeing its availability for a specific number of days per year. The principle applies to all types of vessel, from aircraft carriers to the smallest ships. "The crew must have access to the barge 335 days per year. If it breaks down, we need to be able to intervene immediately", explain Pierre Talarmin and Guillaume Serlooten, project managers at Cegelec Défense et Naval Sud-Est.

Hybrid engine: an innovative feature for small naval vessels

What makes these multi-mission barges different is that they use a hybrid propulsion system with batteries, which means they have a combustion engine to operate in conventional mode and an electric motor to operate in zero emissions mode. This is the first time that the French Navy has integrated hybrid engines into small vessels. The energy propulsion system was designed by AltEn. So what are the benefits? "These barges tend to travel slowly. And diesel engines are not suited to low speeds, unlike electric motors", points out Pierre Talarmin. As a result, the system will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as noise levels and exhaust gases for the crew.

The in-service support contract, awarded by the DGA to Cegelec Défense et Naval Sud-Est, covers all the ships for a period of 10 years and includes a "propulsion system availability guarantee". The propulsion system extends from the propeller to the engine and comprises the auxiliary circuits that are used to start the engine, the water and diesel inlet circuits, the battery bank, the switchboards, etc. Basically, a large proportion of the ship!

"This is the third comprehensive construction + maintenance contract that we have won for the French Ministry of Defence, supplementing the 120 vessels that we are already maintaining on behalf of the French Navy. We have teamed up with builder H2X, which puts us in a strong position to secure construction + maintenance contracts and to be a key partner", outlines Jean-Philippe Monnot, head of Cegelec Défense et Naval Sud-Est.

Designed by Bureau MAURIC, the 24m-long, 8m-wide, 55-tonne barges feature an aluminium hull and composite superstructure. The first multi-mission barge should be delivered mid-2017. Following three months of testing, construction of the next five barges should get under way, with delivery due to take place between 2019 and 2020. Two multi-mission barges will be docked at Brest, two others in Toulon, one in Saint-Mandrier and one in Cherbourg. There is also an option to operate two further barges in the Caribbean and New Caledonia.

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Crédit photo © Bureau MAURIC / H2X