French Navy’s First Air Defense FREMM ‘Alsace’ Starts Sea Trials

The FREMM frigate “Alsace” started her initial sea trials on October 5th, setting sails for the first time under her own power from the Naval Group shipyard in Lorient. “Alsace” is the first of two air-defense frigates known as FREMM DA (Frégate Européenne Multimissions de Défense Aérienne) for the French Navy (Marine Nationale).

Alsace set sails in the evening twilight despite expected heavy weather and seas off Britany’ Southern coast. This is the seventh FREMM European Multi-Mission Frigate ordered by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) on behalf of the French Navy, and whose program management has been entrusted to the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR).

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 last month. It 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.

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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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