French Navy commissions second offshore support vessel ‘Rhone’

The French Navy commissioned its second Loire-class offshore support and assistance multipurpose vessel – BSAH Rhone – in a ceremony on July 6.

Rhone entered service after being launched by the Kership joint venture in Concarneau, north-western France, in November 2017, and completing all trials off Brest.

The commissioning of BSAH Rhone was announced at the same time as the delivery of FREMM frigate Bretagne.

Rhone is the second of four Bâtiment de soutien et d’assistance hauturiers (BSAH) vessels being built by a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou.

French DGA (Defence Procurement Agency) awarded a contract for the construction of first two vessels to Kership in September 2015. A year later, DGA ordered further two vessels to be constructed with delivery set for 2019.

Named after French rivers Loire, Rhone, Seine and Garonne, the BSAH vessels will be used by the French Navy for rescue missions, environmental protection, work in military ports and general support for other navy units.

The 70-meter vessels displace about 2,600 tons and have a towing capacity of 80 tons. They reach speeds of 14 knots and have an autonomy of about 30 days of operation without refueling.

The vessels are equipped with an 8-meter working boat and semi-rigid boats as well as a crane allowing the embarkation and disembarkation of containers. They are capable of accommodating divers, transport weapons and ammunition, providing support to a submarine during stopover and deploying an anti-pollution barrier.