The French Ministry of Defence (Ministère de la Défense) announced that the French Navy’ nuclear-powered attack submarine Suffren (Q284) and its blue crew completed their first operational deployment with the Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group on January 4, 2023. Deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, the Suffren took part in the ANTARES mission for the defense of French and European interests. During this operational deployment, the crew made a stopover in Souda Bay, Greece before heading back to sea during the end-of-year celebrations. Completing a mission started on November 22, Suffren’s crew members were reunited with their families upon their arrival at the quay. The submarine will now begin its annual maintenance period.
Suffren (Q284) is a French nuclear attack submarine. It is the lead ship of the Suffren class, stemming from the Barracuda programme. The vessel was laid down on 19 December 2007 at Cherbourg. The submarine was unveiled to the public on 12 July 2019 in Cherbourg, with a three-year delay, in front of French President Emmanuel Macron and Defense Minister Florence Parly. The K15 nuclear reactor came online on 18 December 2019. Sea trials started in 2020. It was commissioned on 6 November 2020; while full operational service had originally been anticipated in 2021, this was pushed back into 2022 after further testing/trials by the Marine nationale. Pursuant to testing the submarine was then declared fully operational on 3 June 2022.
Suffren is not equipped with a periscope, but rather an optronic mast, which allows for much longer range and outside visible spectrum detection of targets. A first for the French Navy is the ability to deploy a small underwater vehicle for special forces use thanks to a dry deck shelter. Previously special forces used torpedo tubes and handheld propulsion systems. The ship also has the ability to use the MdCN ground attack cruise missile in its submarine borne version. It is said to be ten times quieter than the previous generation Rubis-class nuclear attack submarine. This combined larger hull and smaller crew compared to the Rubis class makes this ship the first French submarine to be designed to allow women on board. It has very spacious separate living quarters for men and women.