French shipbuilder Piriou has launched the first of four new light, multi-role, oceanic vessels for the Marine Nationale (French Navy) from its shipyard in Concarneau, Brittany.
The prototype of the “D’Entrecasteaux” (named after the 18th century French naval officer and explorer) class ship entered construction following the laying of its keel on May 28, 2014. In early August it was reported to be “nearing completion”, in line with the expected delivery dates in 2015 and 2016.
The original contract for the ‘B2M’ (Bâtiment Multi-Mission) programme was awarded in January 2014 to Piriou and Paris-based DCNS, with the former responsible for design and construction, and the latter in charge of on-board communication systems, the military aspects of the design phase, and up to six years of in-service support (ISS) for each vessel.
Required specifications, as stated by the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), France’s defence procurement agency, include the ability to project 20 personnel (joint, police, or gendarmerie), along with two 4x4 vehicles, weapons, and ammunition. A top speed of around 13 knots is also preferred, along with a towing capacity of 30 tons to be used for safeguarding goods and people in distress.