The end of the Cold War (1947-1991) signified the end of accepted naval doctrines which, in turn, evolved design and construction practices. The vaunted Soviet submarine threat was over and the world looked to a lasting peace. As a result, the French Navy looked to focus on its economic zone protection and invested in development and construction of a new class of "surveillance frigates" - this became the Floreal-class.
What was sought with these new ships was complete helicopter support, "Blue Water" capability (inherent good seakeeping and operational ranges), and modest armament support to handle most any threat at sea (and apart from the main fighting fleet). The Floreal-class was, therefore, constructed as a group of eight total vessels to which six went to the French Navy (Floreal, Prairial, Nivose, Ventose, Vendemiaire, Germinal) and two were sold to the Moroccan government (Mohammed V, Hassan II). To keep costs in check and to speed up construction efforts, the vessels were built utilizing common commercial shipping construction practices and methods.
FS Floreal was ordered in 1989 and laid down on April 2nd, 1990. She was launched on October 6th, 1990, commissioned on May 27th, 1992 and maintains an active status in the French Navy. The ship was constructed by Chantiers de l'Atlantique of Saint-Nazaire, France.
These frigates serve a multitude of roles for the French Navy including surveillance, deterrent, protection, intervention, and humanitarian roles. Floreal's primary assignment is the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) serving French interests overseas.
As built, the warship features a displacement of 2,950 ton with a length of 307 feet, a beam of 46 feet and a draught of 14 feet. Propulsion is from 4 x SEMT Pielstick 6PA6 L280 marine diesels outputting 8,800 horsepower. There are also 3 x Baudouin 12P15 2SR diesel alternators and 3 x Alsthom AA 49L9 alternators in play. A Ulstein propulsor provides fine-tuned maneuvering capabilities. Maximum speed in ideal conditions can reach 20 knots with a range out to 10,000 nautical miles.
Aboard is a crew complement of around 90 made up of officers, non-commissioned personnel and 42 enlisted. Air arm is staffed by a team of eleven. The DRBV-21C (Mars) serves as the air-search radar fit while the Racal Decca RM1290 fulfills the navigation requirement. The ARBG-1A "Saigon" is the Electronic Warfare (EW) unit. 2 x Dagaie decoy systems are carried.
The warship showcases standard external design practices of the late-Cold War period. The forecastle is stepped and seats the turreted deck gun. Aft of this is the bridge section with integrated forward mast. The hull superstructure is concentrated at midships and unbroken. The smoke funnels are of a low-profile design and seated side-by-side. The aft section of the warship has the helipad for supporting a single medium-lift helicopter. A full-service hangar is also provided and the typical rotary-wing craft is the Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) "Panther" navalized helicopter. This aircraft is further equipped for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role.
The armament suite is led by the 100mm CADAM turreted deck gun at the forecastle. 2 x MM.38 Exocet Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) launchers are installed and close support is through 2 x 20mm autocannons. For extreme close-range defense, the warship displays 4 x 12.7mm crew-served Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs).
Since commissioning, FS Floreal has taken part in the United Nations (UN) effort in Somalia II (1933) and in retaking the yacht Tanit in 2009.
FS Floreal has her homeport at Port des Galets, La Reunion near Madagascar. All but one of the class homeports overseas.
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