French DGA authorizes construction of five hybrid-propulsion barges for French Navy

French defense procurement agency Directorate General of Armament (DGA) has authorized companies iXblue H2X and Cegelec Defense and Naval Southeast to build five follow-on hybrid-propulsion multi-mission barges for the French Navy.

The March 6 announcement follows a successful operational trial for the first vessel in the class, the ‘La Cigale’  which was delivered in November 2017.

The five-vessel contract also contains an option for additional two vessels which means that a total of eight vessels could potentially be built at the iXblue H2X shipyard in La Ciotat.

Designed by Bureau MAURIC, these multi mission barges – also referred to as CMMs (chalands multi-missions) – are the first vessels in the French Navy fleet to feature a hybrid propulsion system which combines combustion engines and an electric motor powered by batteries.

“These barges tend to travel slowly and diesel engines are not suited to low speeds, unlike electric motors,” Pierre Talarmin, project manager at Cegelec Défense et Naval Sud-Est, explained. “As a result, the system will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as noise levels and exhaust gases for the crew.”

The five follow-on barges are expected to be delivered 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. The optional two CMMs would be operated in the Caribbean and New Caledonia.

CMMs are intended to operate in military bases or near the coasts of naval bases. Measuring 24 meters in length and displacing 53 tons, the aluminium hull and composite superstructure vessels reach a speed of 10 knots and embark up to 36 sailors or divers.