First Gowind class offshore patrol vessel handed over to French Navy

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DCNS has officially handed over the Gowind offshore patrol vessel L’Adroit to the French Navy, which will use it for three years as part of an operational loan to test the design.

L’Adroit was officially made available to the French Navy on 21 October at a ceremony attended by Pascal Le Roy, Managing Director of DCNS Shipyard Lorient, and Vice Admiral Xavier Magne, commander of France’s naval action force (FAN). The ship will be under the command of Captain Loïc Guyot and remains the property of DCNS as it was built by DCNS under a self-funded programme.

The three-year operational loan will enable the French Navy to grant the design the “sea proven” and “operations qualified” seals of approval, thereby giving DCNS two key arguments when promoting the Gowind family on the international market.
“The Gowind OPV L’Adroit is emblematic of DCNS’s ambitious growth strategy on the international market for small- and medium-displacement naval vessels,” said Pascal Le Roy, Managing Director of DCNS Shipyard Lorient, “DCNS is intent on developing an effective response to the world’s maritime safety & security needs as the threat environment grows more complex. Our partnership with a world-class naval force is an opportunity to demonstrate the many strengths of this ship. The endorsement of the French Navy will also help to promote Gowind in international markets as a needs-responsive range of naval vessels with real operational value.”

With two French Navy crews rotating every four months, L’Adroit will offer a high level of at-sea availability, spending 220 days a year on operational missions.

Over the next three years, the French Navy will be thoroughly testing the new ship and its advanced equipment and systems: UAV, commando boat launch ramps, panoramic bridge and single enclosed mast for 360° visibility, teleconferencing facilities, long-range acoustic devices, etc. With these high-tech systems, the ship is ideally equipped for current and emerging maritime safety & security missions, including fisheries surveillance, counter-piracy, drug interdiction, environmental protection, humanitarian aid, and search & rescue, DCNS said.
“The operation is a further demonstration of DCNS’s ability to design and build a particularly innovative ship on a tight schedule – less than two years – and strictly on budget,” the company said in a statement.

Construction of the first-of-class L’Adroit began in France in May last year. L’Adroit has a length of 285.4 feet (86 metres), an at-sea endurance of three weeks and a range of 8,000 nautical miles. Its top speed is 21 knots. The vessel has a helicopter flight deck and can accommodate unmanned aerial vehicle.

DCNS first announced the Gowind family of corvettes in 2006. Since then, DCNS has enlarged the family to include four corvettes with lengths from 85 to 105 metres and displacements from 1 000 to 2 500 tons.

The Gowind corvettes are designed for a variety of different missions, including anti-piracy, sea control and denial, combat, counter-terrorism, drug interdiction and anti-smuggling operations, oil and gas platform protection, search and rescue, fisheries protection, environmental protection and humanitarian support.

A variety of weapons can be carried depending on the customer country’s mission requirements. The weapon systems include: water cannons, 12.7mm remotely controlled machine guns, a 20mm cannon, 76mm naval gun on the forward gun deck, anti-ship missiles, ship self-defence system and electronic warfare suite.

In September it was announced that DCNS and South African maritime organisation KND had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the promotion, construction and sale of Gowind offshore patrol vessels in South Africa.

The purpose of the agreement is to win new offshore patrol vessel (OPV) contracts, first in South Africa, and then in other sub-Saharan countries.

DCNS has long held an interested in South Africa – in September 2008 it launched the Gowind design in South Africa rather than wait for the Euronavale exhibition in Paris later in October.

Following visits by DCNS and KND to each other’s facilities, the two naval shipbuilders quickly recognised the major benefits of forming a partnership. DCNS is trying hard to get into the South African market by offering the Gowind for the SA Navy’s multipurpose offshore patrol vessel (MM OPV, Project Biro) and strategic support ship (SSS, Project Millennium) requirements.