France’s first multi-mission frigate enters service

On 22 November, the first multi-mission frigate with reinforced air-defense capability (FREMM-DA) Alsace was admitted to active service in the French Navy. 

The Alsace is the seventh multi-mission frigate to join the ranks of the French Navy. With a length of 142 meters and a width of 20 meters, the newbuild can reach a maximum speed of 27 knots.

The new frigate features advanced weapon systems, such as Heracles Multifunction Radar, ASTER 15/30 Missiles, Exocet MM40 Missiles, MU 90 Torpedoes, and have increased performance of the combat system and communications.

The first steel of the FREMM DA Alsace was cut in 2016, and it was launched in Lorient on 18 April 2019. Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly took delivery of the Alsace on 16 April 2021, when the frigate arrived at her homeport of Toulon after a succession of dockside and sea trials.

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There followed a period of shakedown trials for the frigate and her crew, providing an opportunity to test out the ship’s military capabilities in contact with the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the nuclear attack submarine Suffren.

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On 17 November, with the success of her first firing of an Aster 30 anti-aircraft missile, all of the Alsace’s operational capabilities were finally validated. She now joins the other FREMMs that form the backbone of the surface fleet.

“The Alsace is ready for operations. She belongs to a … class of frigates recognized worldwide for their combat capabilities. In the current strategic environment, it is essential that we renew the capabilities of our national navy: in the face of obstacles to freedom of navigation, in the face of attempted intimidation at sea, in the face of the desire to deny access to certain zones, France needs a strong, effective and credible Navy,” Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly commented.

The FREMMs are the flagship program in the renewal and modernization of the French Navy. These frigates are stealthy, multipurpose, resilient, flexible, with advanced automation systems, and optimized crew size.

Their main missions are to control a maritime operation zone, above and below the surface, to support and assist force-projection operations, and—for the first six frigates in the class—to offer a precision deep strike capability against land targets with the naval cruise missile. They operate the Caiman Marine helicopter, which has a well-developed anti-submarine warfare capability and can embark on the Écume rigid inflatable boats of the marine commandos, according to the navy officials.

An eighth frigate of the same type, Lorraine, is currently undergoing tests, with acceptance scheduled for the end of 2022. The renewal of the French Navy’s first-rank frigate component is set to continue with the Defence and Intervention Frigates (FDI) program, due to make its first delivery in 2024.

By 2030, the French Navy will have 15 first-rank frigates: eight FREMMs (including two FREMM DAs), two air defense frigates (FDAs) and five FDIs, the officials revealed.

Photo: Naval Group