On June 30, 2023, a little over a month after the start of its sea trials marking a key step towards its return to the operational cycle, Naval Group delivered the nuclear attack submarine Perle (S606). This period of sea trials validated the repair and maintenance work in operational condition carried out by Naval Group. The SNA Perle is now ready for future deployments. The work to replace the bow of the nuclear attack submarine Perle, which had been damaged by a fire in June 2020 in Toulon, was carried out, in Cherbourg then in Toulon, by Naval Group under the project management of the Fleet Support Service. This work was immediately followed by the IPER work (Periodic Interruption for Maintenance and Repairs) already scheduled, during which the teams carried out the reassembly of all the equipment, continued the modernization work, the reloading of the core and the requalification of the nuclear boiler room, but also the upgrading of the combat system. The checks and tests that followed this phase then made it possible to validate the repair work and the proper functioning of all the installations.
An extraordinary technical and technological challenge
The Perle repair yard was an exceptional job in many respects. The hybridization of two submarines, with the replacement of the forward half of the SNA Perle by that of the ex-SNA Saphir, using cutting and welding processes mastered by Naval Group, is a technical and technological feat, including several steps:
— the cutting of the two Perle and Saphir submarines ;
— the very precise movement and alignment of the half-shells on walkers;
— the welding of the thick hull of the two half-submarines, then the reconstruction of the interior decks in the junction area;
— joining hundreds of cables and collectors.
This success owes a great deal to the know-how and commitment of all the employees involved, to their unique skills mobilized to meet this technological challenge and to the quality work carried out jointly with the Fleet Support Service teams. This work thus enables the French Navy to recover the full potential of the SNA Perle , until 2028. This major project represented more than:
— 300 people and more than 20 skills mobilized;
— 100,000 hours of engineering work with the creation and updating of more than 2,000 plans and design documents;
— 250,000 hours of industrial work which is divided between the tasks of cutting, reconstruction of bridges and internal partitions, welding and connection;
— more than 120 electrical cables reconnected, which is equivalent to more than 2,000 connections;
— more than one million hours of work for IPER works.
Perle is a first-generation nuclear attack submarine of the French Navy. The boat is the sixth and last of the Rubis series. Construction began on the submarine on 27 March 1987. The boat was launched on 22 September 1990 and entered active duty service on 7 July 1993. The Rubis class is a series of nuclear-powered attack submarines operated by the French Navy. The class comprises six vessels, the first entering service in 1983 and the last in 1993, with another two being cancelled. All six submarines of the Rubis class are based at Toulon and are part of the Escadrille de sous-marins nucléaires d’attaque. Smaller than contemporary designs of other major world navies, the Rubis class shares many of its system designs with the conventionally-powered Agosta class. On 17 November 2022, the submarine left dry dock to continue her tests prior to an envisaged start of sea trials. The submarine returned to sea in May 2023 for the start of post-refit sea trials.