Town Hall Briefing

French Navy chief firmly behind DCNS Sea 1000 bid

Speaking recently to Australian media, the Chief of Staff of the French Navy Admiral Bernard Rogel explained that the French Navy has never been busier around the globe.

A distinguished submariner, having commanded both SSN and SSBN submarines, Admiral Rogel was keen to highlight the coalition nature of the operations that the French Navy has been taking part in for well over a decade now.

“We have the closest relationship with the US than we have ever had, particularly on operations,” Admiral Rogel said, speaking about the close working relationship the French Navy has with allies both in their region and internationally. “We cooperate in every domain including submarines.”

Regarding the DCNS Shortfin Barracuda bid for Sea 1000 under the CEP, Admiral Rogel was supportive of the program more broadly as it related to the strategic engagement between France and Australia.

“There are no problems in cooperating with the Australian navy on submarine technology,” he said. “If the Australian navy was to ask for sensitive technology like signatures, it’s not an issue. We’re already working together in so many ways.”

The French Navy is also due to head up the carrier group in the Gulf later this year under Task Force 50, with the Charles De Gaulle leading the way. The task group will be made up predominantly of US, UK and French ships with Australia also providing a frigate in the mix, ADM understands.

“We have a very close relationship with the US Navy,” Admiral Rogel said in response to direct questions about the working level relationship between the nations. “We’re totally interoperable with the USN and have numerous missions to support that.”

When DCNS representatives say they have support at the highest levels from the French government and Navy, they truly do. The technical aspects of what DCNS is offering is truly everything it seems – the crown jewels developed in the French nuclear submarine program for the past 50 years and into the future when it comes to stealth, signature management and any IP that Australia wants access to in order to make the program successful.

“What counts to me is the reaction of the Australian government and no one else – when it comes to their decision making,” Admiral Rogel said. “For the French navy, this would be a welcome occasion to reinforce an already good relationship should we have similar technologies.”

While DCNS would not be drawn on the technical nature of the finer details behind the Shortfin offering (AIP, weapons load out, exact dimensions etc), they are confident of their offering, based on the nuclear Barracuda variant under construction at Cherbourg in the north of France.

All CEP contenders are due to have their final paperwork to the Commonwealth by November 30.

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Australian Defence Week Premium
20 October 2015