French Navy’s First FREMM DA Alsace To Start Sea Trials In October 2020

The FREMM frigate “Alsace” is set to begin its initial sea trials in early October, Naval News learned from Naval Group, the shipbuilder. It is the first of two air-defence frigates known as FREMM DA (Frégate Européenne Multimissions de Défense Aérienne) for the French Navy (Marine Nationale).

The FREMM DA Alsace  was launched April 18, 2019 at the Naval Group shipyard of Lorient thirteen months after its keel laying. It is the ninth FREMM frigate built by Naval Group and the seventh one for the French Navy.

Alsace was expected to begin sea trials in May this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shipyard stopped production for nearly two months, delaying the program by nearly four months (because of subsequent impact on the overall supply chain).

Likewise, Aslace‘s sistership, Lorraine, (the final FREMM for the French Navy) was set to be launched this month but will actually hit the water by year-end. Naval Group still expects to deliver the two vessels to the customer on time: First half of 2021 and second half of 2022 respectively.  Following the delivery of its last FREMM, Naval Group will transition to the FDI, the next generation of frigates for the French Navy.

The FREMM DA program started in 2008. Alsace and Lorraine are replacing the two Cassard-class (Type F70 AA) frigates and their ageing SM-1 surface to air missiles. Cassard was decommissioned on 15 march 2019. Jean Bart is set to be decommissioned next year.

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Greece will lease two FREMM Frigates

Recent media reports in Greece claimed that the two FREMM DA would be leased to the Hellenic Navy until the procurement contract for FDI frigates is finalized.

Naval News understands that the current format of “major surface combatants” of the French Navy (i.e. eight FREMM frigates including the two FREMM DA and two Horizon type Air Warfare Destroyers) is the bare minimum to sustain all its missions. For the record, the original plan was for the French Navy to field 17 FREMM and four Horizon type destroyers.

Five FDI frigates will follow and gradually replace the La Fayette-class frigates (which are considered “first rank frigates” as well since 2008). We also understand that talks between France and Greece are ongoing regarding the procurement of FDI frigates. An LOI was signed in October 2019.

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