France receives first catamaran landing craft


The French navy has received its first EDA-R, a unique landing craft which cruises like a catamaran but lowers its cargo deck to beach like a flat-bottomed landing craft.

The French defence procurement agency, Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), took delivery of the first fast amphibious landing craft (Engin de Débarquement Amphibie Rapide, or EDA-R) on Thursday in Toulon.

The EDA-R will be operated by the French navy’s Mistral-class Bâtiments de Projection et de Commandement (BPC) amphibious warfare ships.

The first contract was awarded in June 2009 and covered the supply of the first four EDA-R craft as well as their operational support until mid-2015. The three other vessels will be delivered by mid-2012.

The first EDA-R craft began its contractual sea trials in late July with the DGA. After a long series of tests and trials, including beachings, loading and unloading at sea or on-shore, and well deck compatibility trials inside a BPC ship, it was formally accepted by the DGA on November 24.

Based on the Landing Catamaran (L-CAT) concept developed and patented by the engineering company CNIM (Constructions industrielles de la Méditerranée), the EDA-R is a catamaran-hulled vessel during the fast transit phase, but turns into a flat-bottomed vessel for beaching and for entering the well-deck of its mother ships thanks to its central elevating platform. Each BPC ship can carry two EDA-Rs in its well deck.

Developed to land troops and heavy vehicles from ships remaining at beyond-the-horizon distances (over 30 nautical miles, or 55 km) from shore, the EDA-Rs will also be suitable for humanitarian missions in areas that have no berthing facilities, the DGA said.

At 30 meters long and 12 meters wide, the EDA-R has a payload of 80 metric tonnes and top speeds of 18 knots at full load or 30 knots empty. Its forward and access ramps simplify loading and unloading of vehicles. Overall, the logistical through-put of a single EDA-R is five times greater than that of the conventional landing craft currently in service with the French navy, according to the DGA.

The Socarenam shipyard, a subcontractor to prime contractor CNIM, builds the EDA-R hull. The workload generated by the production of the four craft is estimated at about 400 000 man-hours, and supports over 100 jobs for three years. Alongside CNIM and Socarenam, a number of small and very small French companies are involved in the EDA-R program.