STATUS: Commissioned, in Active Service
SHIPS-IN-CLASS (6): FS Rubis (FS Provence) (S601); FS Saphir (FS Bretagne) (S602); FS Casablanca (Bourgogne) (S603); FS Emeraude (S604); FS Amethyste (S605); FS Perle (S606); FS Turquoise (S607) (cancelled); FS Diamat (S608) (cancelled)
LENGTH: 240 feet (73.15 meters)
BEAM: 25 feet (7.62 meters)
DRAUGHT: 21 feet (6.40 meters)
DISPLACEMENT (SURFACE): 2,400 tons
DISPLACEMENT (SUBMERGED): 2,600 tons
PROPULSION: 1 x K48 pressurized water nuclear reactor with 2 x Turbo-alternators and 1 x Electric motor drivign power to 1 x shaft.
SPEED (SURFACE): 25 knots (29 miles-per-hour)
RANGE: Essentially Unlimited
Detailing the development and operational history of the FS Saphir (S602) Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine.
Entry last updated on 11/9/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Rubis-class of nuclear-powered attack submarines for the French Navy was originally envisioned as an eight-strong group until two were cancelled, leaving just the six to be led by FS Rubis (S601). FS Saphir (S602) then followed as the second boat in the class, her construction beginning on September 1st, 1979. Originally intended to carry the name of "Bretagne", she was renamed "Saphir" in 1981 and launched on September 1st that same year before being formally commissioned into service with the French Navy on July 6th, 1984.
As built, Saphir displaces at 2,600 tons when submerged and 2,400 tons when surfaced. Her design reaches a length of 241 feet with a beam measuring 25 feet and draught of 21 feet. As a nuclear-powered submarine, her propulsion system is centered around a pressurized water, K48 series nuclear reactor and this is mated to 2 x turbo-alternators with 1 x electric motor driving a single shaft at the stern. The boat is also outfitted with 1 x SEMT Pielstick 8PA4V 185 SM diesel-alternators and 1 x auxiliary engine which supplies propulsion for surfaced traveling. With this arrangement, Saphir can reach speeds of up to 25 knots and range becomes essentially unlimited due to the nuclear technology. Endurance is limited by onboard food stores which can last the crew some 45 days at sea before requiring replenishment. The vessel has been tested to depths of 300 meters which broadens the tactical capabilities of the attack submarine considerably. The vessel is crewed by seventy personnel.
At the heart of every attack submarine is its armament and sensor/processing systems. Saphir is appropriately outfitted with 4 x 533mm torpedo tubes to fire the F17 Mod 2 torpedo as well as the SM39 Exocet anti-ship missile. The boat can carry up to 14 reloads of each or a mixed set and can further be called upon to lay naval mines when needed. Processing systems including a DMUX 20 series multi-function suite, an ETBF DSUV 62C towed antenna array, the DRUA 33 series radar and the ARUR 16 system.
To date, Saphir has led a rather contained service life. She underwent a major refit during the period from October 1989 to May of 1991, adopting several more modern standards to keep the vessel a viable battlefield component for the French Navy. During September of 2001, she was called to torpedo the Cold War-era T47-class destroyer D'Estree which had now relegated for target practice.
Saphir remains in active service as of this writing (2014) and makes her homeport out of Toulon.