French submarine Saphir arrives in Cherbourg before retiring

Photo: Marine Nationale

On July 3, the French Navy’s nuclear attack submarine Saphir (S602) reached the Cherbourg port, prior to her retiring from the navy’s fleet.

After 35 years of service, Saphir will be the first of six Rubis-class submarines to be retired from active duty at the end of this month.

Launched in 1981 and commissioned three years later, Saphir has a displacement of 2,600 tons, a length of 73.6 meters and a beam of 7.6 meters.

Since its commissioning, Saphir has traveled 1.2 million nautical miles, spent more than 120,000 hours underwater and made hundreds of stops. She has participated in a number of missions from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean and from the Far North to the South American coasts.

The Rubis-class submarines will be replaced by Barracuda-type newbuilds, as part of France’s 2019-2025 White Paper that includes the construction of six new submarines — Suffren, Duguay-Trouin, Tourville, Dupetit-Thouars, Duquesne and De Grass. Suffren is expected to be delivered to the navy in 2020.

The Barracuda weapons payload will include next-generation type F21 heavyweight torpedoes, SM39 anti-ship missiles and MdCN-type naval cruise missiles. The boats will also be fully equipped for missions with NATO naval forces and special operations.

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