Fire-damaged French Submarine ‘Perle’ is ready to float after its rear section was joined with the front portion of de-commissioned submarine ‘Saphir’ as the first major step in bringing the nuclear powered submarine back to life.
Sylvain Tirand, Deputy Director of the Perle program, detailed the repair solution that consisted of joining the rear of the Perle with the fore section of the Saphir, an SSN (nuclear submarine) decommissioned in 2019.
Sylvain Tirand was quoted as saying in a Naval Group release that the Perle will be launched in June 2021 and transferred to the Homet site for the splicing and reconstitution work. The submarine will then return to the French Navy’s Toulon facility in early November for the remainder of its repair and overhaul.
Tirand said that the Perle arrived in Cherbourg facility (of Naval Group) in January this year where it was placed in the submarine launching facility (DME); the Saphir took its place mid-February.
Over February and March, the teams in Cherbourg cut the two submarines open. They then used a dual walking beam to move the submarine subsections, and aligned them for joining (welding of the pressure hull). This work has just been completed on the DME.
Preparation of the cutting and joining areas of the submarines had started back in October in Toulon for the Perle and in November for the Saphir in Cherbourg. This work consisted in removing and dismounting the equipment in the cutting area to preserve its physical integrity throughout the operation.
The teams also performed electrical and alignment checks of all cables and repaired the collectors to enable the back of the Perle to be joined to the front of the Saphir.