FS Suffren is set to lead the planned six-strong Suffren-class (also recognized as the Barracuda-class) submarine fleet for the modern French Navy. As of late-2016, three boats are under construction. Commissioning of FS Suffren, originally planned for 2017, is now set for 2018 and the boats in the series are being constructed by Paris-based DCNS of France. The class will displace in the 5,000 tonne range and feature nuclear propulsion. The design is influenced by the preceding Triomphant-class boats debuted in 1997 and incorporates the latest in acoustics dampening.
As designed, Suffren will feature an overall length of 326 feet, a beam of 29 feet and a draught of 24 feet. Surfaced displacement is set for 4,765 tonnes against a submerged displacement of 5,300 tonnes. The crew numbers sixty men and includes twelve officer-level personnel. The boat's profile is conventional with a mid- mounted sail, rounded bow and tapering stern. At the stern is a X-shaped plane arrangement and shrouded propeller unit.
Propulsion power for Suffren is led by a K15 nuclear reactor unit outputting 200,000 horsepower for submerged travel. Surface travel is by way of 2 x turboreductor units developing 13,000 horsepower and either arrangement will drive a single shaft at the stern. A pair of emergency electric engines as well as a pump jet will also be carried. Because of its nuclear propulsion scheme, FS Suffren will feature essentially unlimited operational ranges - limited only by crew fatigue and the 70-day storage of food carried. Surface speeds will reach 14 knots while underwater speeds will peak at over 25 knots.
Onboard systems will ensure quiet travel and advanced detection and tracking of enemy elements both on the sea and under it. Included sensors and processing installations are the Velox-M8, SEACLEAR and SYCOBS systems.
Armament is centered on 4 x 533mm (21") torpedo tubes mounted in the bow. Twenty torpedo reloads will be carried but these launchers will also have an in-built capability to field anti-ship missiles (SM.39 Exocet Block 2) and cruise missiles. The vessel will also be able to lay naval mines (FG29 series) as needed. One key tactical quality of modern-day submarines is the ability to launch these weapons while completely submerged.
The Suffren-class is expected to succeed the in-active Rubis-class fleet of 2,660 tonne displacement and numbering six boats from 2018 onward. Beyond FS Suffren, the lead ship of the class, sister-ships will become FS Duguay-Trouin, FS Tourville, FS Dupetit-Thouars, FS Duquesne and FS De Grasse. Commissioning of the class will span 2018 to 2929 and all boats are expected to make homeport out of Toulon.