In the mid-1970s, the French government approved a new nuclear-powered attack submarine class for the Navy service to number eight boats in all. The Rubis-class became a dimensionally-compact group of undersea fighting boats that eventually numbered just six with two being cancelled. The class was led by FS Rubis (S601) and eventually included FS Saphir (S602), FS Casablanca (S603); FS Emeraude (S604), FS Amethyste (S605) and FS Perle (S606). All but the Casablanca were named after precious gemstones.
The Rubis-class was adopted to succeed the aging Dahne-class boats and were, themselves, since succeeded by the newer Barracuda-class (better known as the Suffren-class) detailed elsewhere on this site.
FS Amethyste (or L'Amethyste) was laid down on October 31st, 1983 and launched on May 14th, 1988. She was formally commissioned for service into the French Navy ranks on March 3rd, 1992 and entered service on March20th of that year, making her homeport out of Toulon. She remains in active service as of this writing (November 2017). Enough changes were instituted on Amerthyste that she served as the new standard for the Rubis-class, all of which were upgraded to meet her qualities in silent operation, improved hydrodynamics and engine processes.
FS Amethyste is a nuclear-powered submarine carrying a pressurized water K48 nuclear reactor mated to an SEMT Pielstick 8PA4V185SM diesel-alternator, an auxiliary engine, an electric engine and 2 x turbo-alternators. This arrangement allows the boat to make headway (under water) at over 25 knots, making her very fast, and range out indefinitely thanks to her high endurance nuclear power pack. Onboard supplies allow the crew of 68 to stay on mission for up to sixty days. The hull is tested to depths of slightly more than 300 meters.
Aboard is a DMUX 20 series multifunction suite with an ETBF DSUV 62C tugged antenna fit and a Kelvin Hughes 1007 radar. The submarine also carries a DSUV 22 series microphone (listening) system and model DRUA 33 radar. The Thomson "Sintra" DMUX 20 is the sonar installation and the DSUV 62C is the towed array. Electronic Warfare (EW) is headed by the Thomson-CSF ARUR 13/DR 3000U suite.
Armament centers on 4 x 533mm (21") torpedo tubes, all bow-facing, and these launchers can fire the F17 Mod 2 torpedo family or the Exocet SM.39 anti-ship missile. It can also carry and disperse naval mines as needed. Torpedo reloads number fourteen.
Displacement is 2,400 tons when surfaced and 2,670 tons when dived. Dimensions include a length of 241 feet, a beam of 25 feet and a draught of 21 feet. Externally the boat has a smooth, rounded bow and its sail is set ahead of midships. The sail contains the dive planes and these are mounted forward and towards the top of the conning tower. The stern holds the rudder planes (cruciform pattern) and propeller unit.
To date (2017), FS Amethyste has seen active combat in the 1999 Yugoslavian campaign concerning Bosnia and its neighbors (as part of the NATO contingent there). Beyond intelligence gathering, which the boat excelled at, the submarine was also used as a waterway denial platform against Serbian forces. After this, the boat was seen navigating the various European water bodies as well as taking trips to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf region - helping to curtail piracy operations near Somalia in the latter.
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