A Real Pirate Buster!
Here is some info on the French warship which foiled the designs of 12 Somali pirates, as New Wars detailed last week. According to Wikipedia, Floréal and her sisters are officially titled “light surveillance frigates”, of which 6 have been built for the French Navy, and 2 for the Royal Moroccan Navy:
After the end of the Cold War, it was felt that the risks of a large-scale military confrontation had all but disappeared. The Marine Nationale had to face new missions, while its escort avisos from the 80s were aging, and also badly adapted to low-risk zones.
The concept of “sentry frigate” emerged from the will of the French government to protect its Exclusive Economic Zone (12 million km²), as defined in the Montego Bay treaties. Another need was to address matters of humanitarian aid, diplomacy, or naval law enforcement. To address these missions, an onboard helicopter is clearly the optimal solution, provide versatile, swift and long-range capabilities to deliver support, ferry or rescue.
These constraints defined the need for a ship which would be small; extremely stable to allow use of a heavy helicopter in all weather; small crew, while retaining capacities to accommodate navy commandos; light armament; economic and long-range propulsion system.
Built with economy in mind, the vessel seems so much more, and just as relevant to the conflicts we faced today than more costly than harder to build high tech cruisers, destroyers, and frigates.
To make the ship more economical, civilian construction methods were used at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint Nazaire. The ships use the SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulations, which require the hull to have eleven watertight compartments. The rules of the classification society Det Norske Veritas are used for energy production and safety. The ships were built in series, each with six pre-fabricated parts weighing up to 570 tonnes that were assembled and welded in a dry dock. (The construction method was later used for the La Fayette class). The first trials at sea were carried out in 1991 with an entirely civilian crew, while the Marine Nationale was only present as an observer.
Very good, and here are the specifications:
- Displacement: 2,600 tons standard,
- Length: 93.5 metres (307 ft),
- Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h),
- Range: 13000 nautical miles (24,000 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h),
- Complement: 88 (total),
- Armament: 2 Exocet MM38 missiles
1 x 100 mm CADAM turret with Najir fire control system
2 x 20 mm modèle F2 guns
Aircraft carried: 1 Panther helicopter
A small warship, without the frills and no advanced modular construction or high speeds needed to contend with pirates or smugglers. Though not a corvette which we favor to build up ship numbers, she is very practical and sensible.